Obama commutes sentences of 3 from Michigan

Melissa Nann Burke
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — Three Michiganians were among 111 prisoners granted clemency Tuesday by President Barack Obama.

Emmanuel Obi Maduka of Detroit was sentenced in the Southern District of New York in 2008 to 20 years in prison and 10 years of probation for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin and conspiracy to import heroin. His sentence will now be commuted to expire Dec. 28.

Charles Lee Brandon, 33, of Bay City was sentenced in the Eastern District of Michigan in 2008 to nearly 22 years imprisonment and eight years of probation for possession with an intent to distribute five grams or more of cocaine base. Obama cut his sentence to a term of 151 months in prison. He is at the low-security penitentiary in Milan.

John Western Thomas, 46, of Albion was sentenced in 2006 in the Western District of Michigan to life imprisonment, followed by 10 years of probation for possession with the intent to distribute more than 100 grams of cocaine base. Thomas’ sentence will now expire Aug. 30, 2018, on the condition that he enrolls in a residential drug treatment program.

Thomas is at the high-security federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Obama has issued 673 commutations while in office — including 325 this month — the majority of which have gone to nonviolent offenders sentenced for drug crimes under outdated sentencing rules.

The total of commutations is more than the last 10 presidents combined, according to the White House. More than a third of the prisoners serving commuted sentences were serving life sentences.

Obama commuted the sentences of four other prisoners from Michigan earlier this month.

The Department of Justice has said it is fast-tracking requests for commutations in drug-related cases involving nonviolent offenders who had served more than 10 years of their sentences and who under current sentencing guidelines would have received lesser sentences.


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