Thursday, the head of the association of career federal prosecutors unloaded on President Obama’s decision to cut short the sentences of another 214 prisoners, accusing the administration of violating its own clemency guidelines.
Obama’s was the most commutations ever issued on a single day, according to political scientist P.S. Ruckman Jr., who tracks presidential commutations. His total now stands at 562, more than the previous nine presidents combined.
“These aren’t little, nonviolent offenders.”
Steve Cook, president of the National Association of Assistant U.S. Attorneys, says that 55 of the prisoners have firearms convictions, and in many cases not just possessing a weapon but using it help carry out drug distribution operations. Others have extensive criminal backgrounds that should have raised red flags, he said.
Cook noted that two men who received a break were serving time for “engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise,” which he said indicates they were drug or mafia kingpins.
A federal judge in New York State sentenced Dewayne L. Comer in 1997 to life in prison for leading a million-dollar drug ring from 1994 to 1996. He was one of about two dozen people convicted of participating in a drug ring that sold crack cocaine in central New York. The judge ordered him to forfeit a Mercedes-Benz, a Ford minivan, a Volkswagen, and $17,600 in cash seized at the time of his arrest. He was caught with more than 1.5 kilograms of crack.
Now, Comer will get out of prison on Dec. 1st, thanks to the president’s commutation.
The other prisoner cited by Cook is Dawan “Swannie” Croskery, a Buffalo man sentenced in 2004 to 20 years in prison for engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise and money laundering. He will also be released from prison Dec. 1st.
According to a Buffalo News article from the time he was sentenced, authorities arrested Croskery in October 2002, after a lengthy investigation by the FBI and the Public Safety Department of the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority. He admitted to selling powder and crack cocaine and washing drug proceeds by purchasing cars in the names of other people.
Then there is Ralph Casas, whose life sentence Obama reduced to a little more than 24 years. Casas was convicted in connection with a drug conspiracy to smuggle, as described by a federal appeals court, “massive amounts cocaine and heroin from Puerto Rico and several foreign countries into Miami and New York.”
Casas used his job as an American Airlines baggage handler at Miami International Airport to sneak the drugs past customs officials from September 1992 to March 1995. He smuggled more than 9,445 kilograms of cocaine into the U.S. (more than 10 tons!).
“These are dangerous men, most are career criminals with long records.”