Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega was sentenced to 40 years in prison for cocaine trafficking, markedly less than the 55 years first-time marijuana dealer Weldon Angelos got, Angelos’s attorneys point out. The Deseret News in Salt Lake City reports that Angelos, a young aspiring rap producer, sold pot to an informant who testified that he had a gun during two sales. Angelos, 26, has some prominent support in a bid to have the U.S. Supreme Court review the case.
When he imposed the sentence, U.S. District Judge Paul Cassell criticized minimum-mandatory laws. He pointed out that someone convicted of raping a 10-year-old child or detonating a bomb on an aircraft get less time in the federal system than Angelos. An amicus brief filed by former U.S. attorneys general Janet Reno, Benjamin Civiletti, Griffin Bell and Nicholas Katzenbach and nearly 160 other ex-Justice Department officials and federal judges supports Angelos. In upholding the sentence, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit said Cassell had erroneously downplayed the seriousness of Angelos’ crimes.