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December 15, 2011

Stacked 924(c) counts leads to another very long federal mandatory minimum sentence from Utah

This new piece from The Salt Lake Tribune, headlined "Reluctant Utah judge orders man to 57 years in prison for gang robberies," reports on another case involving stack gun mandatory minimums producing an extremely long federal mandatory minimum sentence. Here are the basics:

Kepa Maumau stared at the courtroom ceiling, fighting to keep his compsure as his father sobbed while giving the 24-year-old man a bear hug on Thursday. It would be the last chance for father and son to embrace after U.S. District Court Judge Tena Campbell ordered Maumau, a once promising running back with plans to play football at Weber State University, to spend 57 years in prison for committing three armed robberies on behalf of the Tongan Crip Gang.

A reluctant Campbell handed down the sentence, which is dictated by federal mandatory minimum guidelines associated with gun crimes.

Maumau’s sentencing in federal court was fourth completed for six members of TCG convicted by a jury in October for a variety of crimes dating back to 2002. The jury convicted Maumau of racketeering conspiracy, robbery, assault with a dangerous weapon and multiple counts of using or carrying a firearm during a violent crime.

Although Maumau’s federal charges marked the first time he’d ever been charged with a felony as an adult, he is subject to a mandatory 57 years for repeatedly using a gun during the robberies.Maumau’s defense attorney, Rebecca Skordas, said she plans to appeal the sentence and used the hearing as a chance to speak out against mandatory minimum sentences.

"This is absurd. It’s just not right," Skordas said. "We as a society have failed when we send a young man to prison for 57 years."

Campbell said the law gives her no alternatives in Maumau’s case. "I can’t change it," she said matter-of-factly.

This case may remind hard-core sentencing fans of another notable federal sentencing case from the same district, which the article goes on to discuss:

Kepa Maumau’s case isn’t the first where a mandatory minimums have come under fire. Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case of Utah music producer Weldon Angelos, who wanted the high court to throw out the 55-year prison sentence he received for drug and weapons crimes despite having no prior criminal record.  The decision ended appeal options for Angelos, 32 -- the founder of hip-hop label Extravagant Records -- who had unsuccessfully argued that his trial attorney mishandled plea negotiations during his court proceedings and that the sentence handed down was unfair.

Angelos sold marijuana to a police informant three times in May and June 2002, each time charging $350 for 8 ounces. He was indicted in federal court on one gun possession count, three counts of marijuana distribution and two lesser charges....

U.S. District Judge Paul Cassell sentenced Angelos to a minimum mandatory 55-year sentence: five years on the first weapons conviction and 25 years each for the next two counts, as required by law. Cassell, frustrated that his hands were tied by the mandatory guidelines, asked former President George Bush to commute the sentence, calling it "unjust, cruel and irrational."

Because I represented Weldon Angelos throughout his unsuccessful 2255 proceedings, I will not comment further on this matter except to note that I am not certain that Angelos is wholly without any more appeal options.

December 15, 2011 at 05:50 PM | Permalink


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Shave it in half and give it to Ex Fed Judge Jack Camp..Be fitting, presided over countless cases high on cocaine. He himself skirted a gun bump..

Posted by: Josh2 | Dec 15, 2011 6:28:17 PM

Armed robberies. Three of them. 57 years sounds about right. If he is good in prison, maybe he gets clemency.

Posted by: federalist | Dec 15, 2011 8:20:22 PM

Maybe he gets clemency? Who was the last armed robber to get his sentence commuted?

Posted by: Thinkaboutit | Dec 15, 2011 10:04:21 PM

I am a U.Va. Law school grad. During my 8 years in Federal prison, during which the Bureau of Prisons moved me around among 4 Lows, 4 Mediums and 2 Maximum Security Penitentiaries,I met several inmates with similarly unjust sentences, due to multiple mandatory consecutive time gun sentences. My favorite had robbed about 8 banks. He received 7 twelve year sentences, running concurrently, for the armed bank robbery convictions. Then he received 5 consecutive years for the first gun and 25 years for the guns used in each of the other 6 armed bank robberies, for a total sentence of 167 years. This defendant was a drug abuser in his 20s at the time of the crimes. He has now served about 20 years of that sentence, is no longer a drug or alcohol user, has educated himself and works out so much that he has the body of a personal trainer (you should see him pump out handstand push-ups on the Rec Yard!). It is a complete was of $40,000 per year to continue to keep him in a Federal prison, but I doubt any President will ever give him a Commutation! He will probably die in prison.

Posted by: Jim Gormley | Dec 16, 2011 4:23:18 PM

You hate to see a young man put away for so long. But he did have repeated offences with a gun. And that does make him a dangerous criminal

Posted by: Randy | Dec 27, 2011 9:38:08 PM

On October 31, 2011 the United States Sentencing Commission issued a comprehensive report assessing the compatibility of mandatory minimum penalties with the current advisory guideline system. Therein they recommended that mandatory minimum penalties in general should (1) not be excessively severe, (2) be narrowly tailored to apply onto those offenders who warrant such punishment, and (3) be applied consistently. The commission then went on to specifically identify the federal firearm statute, 18 U.S.C. 924(c), as a source of excessive penalties and sentencing disparities which clearly need to be addressed by Congress. www.HelpRightaWrong.com is a petition to "Stop Stacking 924(c)'s" and is a quick and effective way for you to voice your opposition to excessively severe mandatory minimum sentencing policies.

Posted by: HelpRightaWrong | Feb 6, 2012 12:45:28 PM

Hello! My name is Ed Martin, I am not in the legal profession, rather just another interested party among those who have come to understand the injustice of stacked, minimum mandatory sentencing. I'm leaving a link below that will acquaint you with the plight of another young man who has become a victim of an overzealous system which lives more by the letter of the law than by the spirit of the law.I do hope that you will take the time to review Adam's situation, there is a .pdf file online mapping out his appeal denial as well as seeing the particulars of his case. A deeper look into Adam and his life there in federal prison, would reveal that he has done much to improve himself, a model inmate that in spite of the outlook on the rest of his life, continues his work at improving himself in quiet acceptance of this miscarriage of justice that consigns him to dying in prison unless he manages to live to be 234 years old! Thank you for listening.


Posted by: Ed Martin | Dec 5, 2012 10:51:45 PM

As a former federal inmate I too, saw several inmates serving horribly long sentences under 924(c). The best relief granted one of those inmates was in New York City where now U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch vacated a federal inmate's consecutive 924(c) sentences because his sentences were to harsh. She needs to do the same for other federal inmates. 924(c) was suppose to be a recividism statute. Commit the first 924(c) sentence, get convicted, serve you time and if after release, and you commit another 924(c) crime, make it consecutive

Posted by: Robert Counterman | Apr 7, 2016 5:24:11 PM

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