In a stunning reprieve for a man sentenced to more than five centuries behind bars for a nonviolent offense, a Los Angeles judge summarily slashed his sentence to time served and ordered his immediate release, CNN reports. Juan Carlos Seresi, a money launderer whose projected release date from the federal Bureau of Prisons had been July 8, 2419, was ordered to be freed “without delay” by U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson. Seresi will be subject to a three-year term of supervised release. “It’s a miracle,” Seresi said after hearing the news from his daughter, Patti Mawer. Mawer, 46, said her father has been behind bars since she was a teenager, but has remained an integral part of her family’s life.
Seresi, 73, was one of four defendants sentenced to 505 years behind bars in 1991 for laundering cocaine cartel cash who were featured in a CNN report in August. The story noted how the sentences were considered harsh even back then and represent the sort of draconian punishment that has since been widely condemned. Wilson had denied a request by prosecutors to overturn the men’s convictions “in the interests of justice” due to special treatment given to a government witness by FBI agents that was not disclosed to the defense. Wilson concluded that the men’s convictions were sufficiently supported by evidence and testimony unrelated to that particular witness. Seresi’s attorneys filed a motion seeking his release on compassionate grounds, due in part to his advanced age and a diagnosis of high blood pressure making him susceptible to serious complications from COVID-19. Prosecutors did not oppose the motion.