- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 30, 2016

President Obama commuted the prison sentences Tuesday for another 111 federal convicts, including some convicted of firearms violations.

The commutations bring to 325 the number of convicts granted clemency this month alone by Mr. Obama. The White House said it was the most commutations by a president in one month ever.

White House counsel Neil Eggleston said the convicts “received unduly harsh sentences under outdated laws for committing largely nonviolent drug crimes.” Thirty-five of those who received commutations Tuesday had been sentenced to life in prison.

Mr. Eggleston said the actions “underscore the president’s commitment to using his clemency authority to provide a second chance to deserving individuals.”

To date, Mr. Obama has granted 673 commutations: more commutations than the previous 10 presidents combined.

While the president has often called for steps to end gun violence, some of the convicts he granted clemency for Tuesday had been convicted of gun crimes. For example, Sly Stallone Aikens of Hickory Grove, South Carolina, was convicted of knowingly using and carrying a firearm during a drug-trafficking crime.

Of those convicts whose sentences were commuted Tuesday, 16 had committed firearms offenses. A few had been convicted of dealing relatively large amounts of narcotics; at least one was selling drugs in a school zone.

For example, Walter Breland of Statesville, North Carolina, was convicted in Indiana of possession with intent to distribute more than five kilograms (more than 11 pounds) of cocaine base; possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime; and being a felon in possession of a firearm. His sentence was 35 years in prison.

Ricardo Gallardo of Rockford, Illinois, was convicted of conspiracy to distribute, and possess with intent to distribute, five kilograms or more of cocaine and one kilogram or more of heroin; distribution of 2,006 grams (more than four pounds) of cocaine; possession with intent to distribute 6.02 kilograms of cocaine and 996.9 grams of heroin; and money laundering.

Randolph S. Gustave of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was convicted of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute in excess of 1,000 kilograms (more than 2,200 pounds) of marijuana; and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments.

George E. Smith of Riviera Beach, Florida, was convicted of possession with intent to distribute less than five grams of crack cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school.

The 325 commutations that Mr. Obama has granted in just one month is more than any president granted in a single year for nearly a century, the White House said. Mr. Eggleston said the president will keep commuting sentences through the end of his presidency in January, and that the clemency actions highlight the need for criminal-justice reform by Congress.

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