Supreme Court lets stand 55-year prison sentence


Monday, December 4th 2006, 9:24 am
By: News On 6


WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Supreme Court on Monday let stand a mandatory 55-year prison sentence, condemned as excessive by the federal judge who imposed it, for a man convicted of carrying a handgun during three marijuana deals.

Record producer Weldon Angelos received the minimum sentence under the law _ a harsher sentence than a child rapist or a terrorist who detonates a bomb aboard an aircraft would receive, according to his attorneys. The justices, without comment, left the prison term undisturbed.

Angelos was convicted of 16 counts of violating federal firearms, drug and money laundering laws in 2003. The charges stemmed from his sale of three 8-ounce bags of marijuana to an undercover informant.

He had a gun but never brandished or used it. Nevertheless, the three counts of possession of a firearm in a drug transaction required the mandatory minimum sentence.

Four former attorneys general and 145 former prosecutors and judges wrote in support of a lighter sentence for Angelos. Even the sentencing judge, U.S. District Judge Paul Cassell, an appointee of President Bush, called the sentence "unjust, cruel and irrational." But he said the law left him no choice.

Prosecutors said the sentence was appropriate and an appeals court agreed.

The case is Angelos v. U.S., 06-26.