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Man Serving 18 Years On Marijuana Charges Die In Federal Prison COVID-19 Outbreak


Fidel Torres, 62, qualified for a sentencing reduction, but the same judge who sentenced him denied it based on infractions while in custody.

The most recent inmate to die as the COVID-19 crisis rips through the federal prison system is a 62-year-old who had less than two years left on an 18-year sentence for marijuana charges.

Fidel Torres was sentenced to 220 months in prison way back in 2006 after he waived a jury trial and let a judge decide his fate. Torres was convicted on a conspiracy charge for possession with intent to distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana, as well as with aiding and abetting the possession with intent to distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana. During the case, federal prosecutors also pointed to two previous convictions on Torres’ record, both of which were marijuana-related.

The same judge who found Torres guilty and decided his sentence — U.S. District Judge George Kazen of the Southern District of Texas — later denied Torres a sentencing reduction for which he would otherwise have qualified under revised 2014 U.S. Sentencing Commission guidelines, based on relatively minor instances of prison misconduct.

Kazen filed a form order stating that Torres “qualifies for sentence reduction, but the Court will not grant the reduction because of behavior while in custody.” Those violations, according to the government, included “sanctions for stealing, possessing stolen property, possessing an unauthorized item, being insolent to staff, and interfering with taking count.”

This article originally appeared in Huffpost

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