Pubdate: Sat, 16 Mar 2002
Source: Athens Banner-Herald (GA)
Copyright: 2002 Athens Newspapers Inc
Author: Greg Rickabaugh, Morris News Service
Bookmark: (Mandatory Minimum Sentencing)


Drug Dealer Slips On Appeal

RICHMOND COUNTY - An Augusta cocaine dealer had his appeal for a lighter 
sentence backfire when a federal appeals court decided his punishment 
wasn't harsh enough.

Andrew Webb, who police say bought and distributed 10 kilograms of cocaine 
per week in Augusta and Waynesboro until his arrest in 2000, received a 
30-year jail term Thursday in U.S. District Court during a resentencing 

In January 2001, after a jury convicted him, U.S. District Chief Judge 
Dudley H. Bowen Jr. sentenced the career drug dealer to a term of 22 years. 
The judge, ignoring federal guidelines requiring a term of 30 years to 
life, said his 22-year sentence was "more than the appropriate societal 
response for the conduct Webb has engaged in."

A month later, Webb ignored his attorney's advice and appealed the 
sentence. In return, federal prosecutors cross-appealed and said the 
sentence did not follow mandatory sentencing guidelines.

The U.S. District Court of Appeals agreed with prosecutors, saying the 
lower court had abused its discretion.

"A district court may not depart from the guidelines range merely because 
it believes the sentence mandated is excessive," the court wrote.

Bowen has frequently railed against federal guidelines.

"Those who advocate this sort of all-inclusive legislative concept, such as 
three strikes and you're out, don't very often have the opportunity to 
appear in a courtroom, and in my experience never have the responsibility 
of imposing criminal sentences," Bowen said last year.

In court Thursday, Webb's wife, Rodesha Taylor Webb, pleaded with the judge 
to show mercy. "If he gets 30 years, his kids will be grown up by the time 
he gets out," she said.

But Bowen said his hands were tied by the higher court's order.

"Mercy was a factor early on. It appears that justice is a factor now," he 
said Thursday.

Before the resentencing, the defendant told the judge he regretted 
appealing the earlier sentence and said he has agreed to work with police 
on other cases.

Webb, 32, has been connected to Tyrone Williams, the former narcotics 
investigator who has been indicted on federal drug trafficking charges.

Court documents say then-investigator Williams extorted money from Webb by 
threatening to use his law enforcement authority against the drug dealer.
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