Producer’s Conviction Appealed

A group of prominent officials and activists are petitioning President Barack Obama to commute the 55-year prison sentence of Weldon Angelos, a hip-hop music producer. Angelos was convicted of selling $350 worth of marijuana while keeping guns in his house in Utah.

Photo: AP Photo / Ed Andrieski, File
Activists are petitioning President Barack Obama to commute a 55-year prison term of a Utah music producer convicted of selling $350 worth of marijuana

He was convicted after a seven-day federal trial in December 2003 of 16 counts of drug trafficking, weapons possession and money laundering.

Angelos, founder of Extravagant Records, was sentenced to 55 years.

Supporters have held up Angelos as an example of what’s wrong with federal mandatory minimum sentences.

He had no criminal record and even the judge who sentenced him called the conviction “unjust, cruel and irrational.” Among the activists are Daniel Ellsberg and Bonnie Raitt.

The appeal was filed with the White House by more than 100 high-profile people, including an ex-FBI director, former judges and prosecutors, scholars and notable former Utah politicians.

Even Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, have shown support.

Angelos denied he had any guns, but police said they found several firearms while searching his apartment.

He never brandished or used a gun during a pot sale, according to trial testimony.

Prosecutors said Angelos rejected a plea offer for a 15-year sentence on a single drug distribution and firearm count.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for Utah declined to comment.

In 2004, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Lund said of Angelos’ sentence, “This sends the message that people who engage in armed drug dealing are going to face very s