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2014: HAPPY NEW YEAR
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Happy Holidays from G.E. Investigations, LLC
Happy Holidays from G.E. Investigations, LLC

 

 

 

Obama commutes sentences of 8 crack cocaine offenders

Obama commutes sentences of 8 crack cocaine offenders

President Obama commutes sentences of 8 nonviolent drug offenders as part of an effort to redress inequities that imprison blacks more than others.

Los Angeles Times
by Timothy M. Phelps
December 19, 2013

President Obama criticized mandatory minimum sentences and disproportionately harsh sentences for crack cocaine as unjust. (Olivier Douliery / European Pressphoto Agency)
President Obama criticized mandatory minimum sentences and disproportionately harsh sentences for crack cocaine as unjust. (Olivier Douliery / European Pressphoto Agency)

 

WASHINGTON —

President Obama, condemning mandatory minimum sentences and disproportionately harsh sentences for crack cocaine as unjust, has commuted the prison terms of eight convicted offenders.

The move is part of the Obama administration’s effort, mainly during the last three years, to address inequities in the criminal justice system, particularly those that put black men behind bars far more often than others.

In August, Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. announced that he would direct federal prosecutors not to automatically seek mandatory minimum sentences for low-level, nonviolent drug offenders.

Until 2010, when Congress approved a new sentencing law, those convicted of possessing crack cocaine were subject to mandatory sentences far higher than those given to people possessing the powder form of the drug. Crack use was more common among blacks and powder among whites.

But passage of the 2010 law, the Fair Sentencing Act, still left thousands of convicted crack users and dealers serving sentences that would have been considerably shorter if their cases had involved powder cocaine. Obama has asked Congress to make that law retroactive.

“Commuting the sentences of these eight Americans is an important step toward restoring fundamental ideals of justice and fairness,” Obama said. “But it must not be the last. In the new year, lawmakers should act on the kinds of bipartisan sentencing reform measures already working their way through Congress.”

Thursday’s commutations involved prisoners who already had served at least 15 years in prison. Six had been sentenced to life and several had become the focus of considerable publicity about their plight.

Prisoner advocates welcomed the announcement but said that roughly 7,000 imprisoned crack users or dealers would be free if they had been sentenced after the 2010 law.

Obama has been more reluctant than recent predecessors to use his constitutional right to grant clemency. He previously had commuted only one sentence in his five years in office and has mostly confined himself to pardoning people who have already served their sentences. According to Justice Department statistics, Obama had received 8,576 petitions for clemency by Dec. 1.

“Considering in his first five years in office he granted only one commutation, I suppose we should be thrilled that he granted eight,” said Julie Stewart, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums. “But considering the number of people in prison who are serving excessive sentences, this is a drop in the bucket.”

Clarence Aaron, among the eight to be freed, was sentenced to three life terms for his role in a 1993 drug deal when he was 22.
Clarence Aaron, among the eight to be freed, was sentenced to three life terms for his role in a 1993 drug deal when he was 22.

 

Among the people receiving commutations Thursday, the most publicized case was that of Clarence Aaron of Mobile, Ala., who was convicted of multiple cocaine charges in 1993 when he was 24 years old. Aaron received three life sentences based on mandatory sentencing guidelines at the time. His conviction was his first criminal offense, and he did not buy, sell or supply the drugs. Instead, he was convicted of conspiracy to possess cocaine with the intent to distribute it, among other charges.

Aaron’s case was featured on the “Frontline” investigative program on PBS and the Fox television network. An investigation by the Washington Post and ProPublica last year revealed that when his request for a commutation was submitted to President George W. Bush, key details were left out of the file. A report by the Justice Department’s inspector general affirmed the news organizations’ findings.

Margaret Love, a pardon attorney under President Clinton and a lawyer for Aaron, said she was encouraged by the Obama’s action, but she said a congressional vote to make the 2010 law apply to previously sentenced offenders “ain’t going to happen.”

She called on Obama to look at the problem of the thousands of crack offenders in prison “on a broader basis,” perhaps considering an approach like that of former President Ford, who set up a clemency board to review the cases of alleged Vietnam-era draft evaders.

A White House official who was not authorized to speak publicly said that at the beginning of the year Obama asked the Justice Department to look for “meritorious” commutation applications and that he approved all that were sent to him with recommendations.

Obama also granted pardons to 13 people who had already served their sentences.

Becca Clemons of the Washington bureau contributed to this report.

 

Direct Link:  http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-obama-commute-20131220,0,4431037.story

Thug charged with hate crime after he brutally attacked Orthodox Jewish man at random in ‘Knockout Game’

Thug charged with hate crime after he brutally attacked Orthodox Jewish man at random in ‘Knockout Game’

  • Amrit Marajh, 28, of Brooklyn, was arrested on charges of assault as a hate crime and aggravated harassment as a hate crime 
  • He is alleged to have punched Shmuel Perl, an Orthodox Jewish man, in the face 
  • Police are investigating if it was a so-called ‘Knockout Game’ assault, in which the object is to knock out an unsuspecting person with one punch

Daily Mail / UK
by David Mccormack
by Associated Press Reporter
November 25, 2013

 

Knockout Game Player & alleged attacker Amrit Marajh
Knockout Game Player & alleged attacker Amrit Marajh

 

New York City police have arrested a man on charges of assault as a hate crime after a 24-year-old Orthodox Jewish man was punched in the face.

Police are investigating whether it was part of a so-called ‘Knockout Game’ assault, in which the object is to knock out an unsuspecting person with one punch.

Amrit Marajh, 28, of Brooklyn, had just left a bar at around 2:45a.m. on Friday with three friends and was talking about boxing when the topic of the knockout game came up, police sources said.

 

Victim Shmuel Pearl, left, pictured leaving the 66th precinct police station in Brooklyn on Friday
Victim Shmuel Pearl, left, pictured leaving the 66th precinct police station in Brooklyn on Friday

 

Shmuel Perl, 24, said that he overheard his alleged attackers daring each other to punch him out just before he was actually assaulted
Shmuel Perl, 24, said that he overheard his alleged attackers daring each other to punch him out just before he was actually assaulted

 

His victim, Shmuel Perl, 24, has said that he overheard his alleged attackers daring each other to punch him out minutes before he was actually assaulted. Perl was stuck once, but wasn’t seriously injured.

Marajh was arrested on charges of assault as a hate crime and aggravated harassment as a hate crime and released after posting $750 bail. His three friends were taken into custody, but released without charge.

Marajh’s lawyer has denied that the attack had anything to do with the brutal game, but New York Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly said there was no question that the game was the motive for the attack, reports ABC.

‘He makes a statement that he was punched in the side of the face,’ Kelly said. ‘He also makes a statement that just prior to it they were talking about the “Knockout Game”.’

 

Marajh, was released on $750 bail for allegedly attacking Shmuel Perl, in the early hours of Friday morning
Marajh, was released on $750 bail for allegedly attacking Shmuel Perl, in the early hours of Friday morning

 

Police are investigating similar recent incidents of 'Knockout Game' assaults, including ones in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C.
Police are investigating similar recent incidents of ‘Knockout Game’ assaults, including ones in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C.

 

Police are investigating similar recent incidents, including in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. At least two deaths have been linked to the attacks this year.

New York City police have deployed additional officers to city neighborhoods where at least seven attacks occurred in the past few weeks, including an assault on a 78-year-old woman.

Authorities and psychologists say the ‘Knockout Game’ assaults have been around for decades – or longer – and it’s played mostly by impulsive teenage boys looking to impress their friends.
Video: ‘Knockout Game’ Suspect Charged With Hate Crime

Direct Link:  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2512958/Man-charged-hate-crime-Knockout-Game-attack-Jewish-man.html