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September 7, 2007

Another politician learning sentencing realities first-hand

As detailed in this AP article, another prominent politician is learning first-hand about how modern criminal justice systems work.  Here are some details:

Former South Carolina Treasurer Thomas Ravenel, once seen as a rising political star in the Republican Party, pleaded guilty Thursday to a federal charge of possession with intent to distribute cocaine.  Ravenel, 45, admitted during a hearing that he bought cocaine from several different people and said he used the drug sometimes as often as once a week....

Ravenel resigned a month after his June indictment.  He faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine, though his plea agreement calls for a reduced sentence because he is helping prosecutors with their investigation.  Chief U.S. District Judge Joseph F. Anderson Jr. said Thursday that Ravenel's sentence would be based on an amount of cocaine less than 100 grams, part of a plea agreement between prosecutors and Ravenel's attorneys. 

At least one former U.S. Attorney in South Carolina, Rene Josey, said that amount and Ravenel's cooperation means he could never spend one day in prison.  "Generally the more somebody cooperates, the more people they rat on, the more a judge is going to depart" from federal sentencing guidelines, said Josey, a lawyer now in private practice who served as U.S. Attorney in the 1990s. "If he doesn't get jail time, I don't think that would be unrealistic."

Ravenel will remain free on a $100,000 unsecured bond until he is sentenced in about two months.  He pleaded guilty to possessing with intent to distribute less than 500 grams of cocaine. Prosecutors have said he bought the cocaine to share with friends, not to sell....  U.S. Attorney Reggie Lloyd said Thursday that there was no evidence Ravenel had used the drug in his government office or while carrying out his duties as state treasurer.

September 7, 2007 at 04:00 AM | Permalink

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Harmon said Ravenel's "legacy was too important to be overshadowed by a mistake in his personal life" and implored U.S. District Judge Joseph F. Anderson Jr. to use "discretion available within the guidelines to recognize his otherwise unblemished record of public service and the consequences he has already suffered."

Posted by: nate | Dec 11, 2007 5:01:12 PM

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