Senator questions Obama commuting sentences of 12 gun offenders

Senator questions why Obama commuted sentences of 12 doing time for gun crimes

The President has now commuted the sentences of 248 individuals – more than the previous six Presidents combined, many of whom were drug dealers found with illegal guns. (Graphic: White House)

President Obama on Wednesday commuted the sentences of 61 “non-violent” federal inmates serving lengthy time, but it turns out that many went to jail partially because of the illegal guns they carried.

“They’re Americans who’d been serving time on the kind of outdated sentences that are clogging up our jails and burning through our tax dollars,” said Obama in conjunction with the announcement.

But the fact that one in five of the inmates to be released from prison on July 28, 2016 were serving time for gun crimes has Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, a Republican, raising the hypocrisy flag.

“These recent sentence commutations come on the heels of the President’s newly proposed executive actions restricting firearms announced in January 2016,” Shelby wrote in a letter to U.S. Attorney Gen. Loretta Lynch on Thursday.

As a member of the GOP-controlled Senate Committee on Appropriations, he warned Lynch that he would not approve current requests to fund the operations of the Pardon Attorney’s Office, a branch of the Department of Justice. So far, in 2016 alone, the office has received more than 10,000 petitions for pardon and commutation.

“While I feel these actions do more to restrict the rights of law-abiding citizens while having little direct impact on reducing violence, I have supported federal proposals to improve the enforcement and implementation of existing firearms laws,” Shelby continued. “However, enforcing existing firearms laws seems like an uphill battle when this Administration has made a point of commuting the sentences of criminals with firearm convictions.”

As noted by White House Counsel Neil Eggleston, “the President has now commuted the sentences of 248 individuals – more than the previous six Presidents combined. And, in total, he has commuted 92 life sentences.”

Of those, Shelby’s office claims as many as 33 of these criminals, repeatedly described as non-violent by the White House, were gun-carrying drug dealers.

“This announcement from the President sends the unfortunate and resounding message to criminals everywhere: if you are convicted of a crime involving a gun, the federal government will go easy on you,” wrote Shelby.

The details of the 12 commutations issued this week that involved firearms crimes, as provided by the White House are as follows:

Bernard Beard – Compton, CA
Offense: Conspiracy to distribute cocaine, cocaine base, heroin, and phencyclidine (PCP); felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition; Central District of California
Sentence: 240 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release (May 22, 2009)

Reginald Wendell Boyd, Jr. – Greensboro, NC
Offense: Conspiracy to distribute cocaine hydrochloride; carry a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime; Middle District of North Carolina
Sentence: 180 months’ imprisonment; eight years’ supervised release (October 31, 2005)

Nabar Moneek Criam – Brooklyn, NY
Offense: Possessed with intent to distribute crack; possessed firearms during trafficking crime; Middle District of North Carolina
Sentence: 180 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release (March 30, 2007)

Ian Kavanaugh Gavin – Eight Mile, AL
Offense: Possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine; using/carrying a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense; Southern District of Alabama
Sentence: 180 months’ imprisonment; eight years’ supervised release (March 8, 2007)

George Michael Gray – Springfield, OR
Offense: Conspiracy to manufacture, possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine; manufacture of methamphetamine; possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine; possession of firearm in connection with drug trafficking offense; District of Oregon
Sentence: Life imprisonment; five years’ supervised release (July 3, 1995)

Jerome Harris, Jr. – Mobile, AL
Offense: Possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine; possession with intent to distribute cocaine; use/carry/possess a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; Southern District of Alabama
Sentence: 300 months’ imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (November 7, 2006)

Vernon Harris – Philadelphia, PA
Offense: Possession with intent to distribute; possession of firearm by convicted felon; Eastern District of Pennsylvania
Sentence: Life imprisonment; 10 years’ supervised release (October 25, 1996)

Tommy Howard – Cincinnati, OH
Offense: Use of a firearm during the commission of a drug trafficking offense; Southern District of Ohio
Sentence: 292 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release; $1,000 fine (January 8, 2004)

Anthony Lee Lewis – Tampa, FL
Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and crack cocaine; distribution of crack cocaine; possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine; convicted felon in possession of a firearm; possession with intent to distribute cocaine; Middle District of Florida
Sentence: Life imprisonment (September 16, 1994)

Ernest Spiller – East St. Louis, IL
Offense: Distribution of crack cocaine (two counts); maintaining a crack house; possession of a firearm in further of a drug trafficking crime; felon in possession of a firearm; Southern District of Illinois
Sentence: 352 months’ imprisonment; three years’ supervised release; $1,000 fine (August 3, 2000)

Michael A. Yandal – Murray, KY
Offense: Possession with the intent to distribute approximately 50 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing cocaine base; possession with the intent to distribute marijuana; possession of a firearm in the furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; Western District of Kentucky
Sentence: 195 months’ imprisonment; five years’ supervised release (April 24, 2007); amended to 180 months’ imprisonment (December 11, 2007)

Lamont Durville Glass – Knoxville, TN
Offense: Possession with intent to distribute cocaine base; felon in possession of a firearm; Eastern District of Tennessee
Sentence: 262 months’ imprisonment; eight years’ supervised release (January 9, 1998)