Leniency for a Drug-Dealing Judgeby Will Grigg
Nov. 26, 2013
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Utah resident Virginia Ward cried as she was sentenced to 90 days in jail – and three years of probation -- for drug trafficking. It could have gone much worse for her. Ward, who had become addicted to the potent prescription painkiller Oxycodone, had originally faced two 15-year prison sentences for her role in a multistate smuggling operation.
It wasn’t until Ward’s sentencing hearing that she learned that the prosecution had reduced its sentencing recommendation to six months. The judge cut that already lenient sentence in half. The department of probation and parole had recommended against jail time.
When Ward reports to jail today, she will serve her term outside of Salt Lake County, in order to avoid other inmates she had imprisoned. Until earlier this year, Ward was a sitting judge, in which role she sentenced lesser offenders to longer terms than the one she will serve.
Meanwhile, a fellow Utah resident named Weldon Angelos is serving 55 years – in principle, a life sentence – for selling about 24 ounces of marijuana to a police informant. Federal prosecutors piled on the charges to punish Angelos for refusing a plea bargain that would have imposed a 16-year prison sentence.
In our system, leniency is reserved for the powerful and corrupt.