Obama commutes Chicago man’s drug sentence

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President Obama speaks at the White House on Tuesday. | AP photo

FBI agents weren’t looking for a Chicago man when he was nabbed at a downstate Amtrak station in 2004 with a bag full of cocaine in his pocket.

“Bad timing often results in one being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Levar [V] Wade will certainly attest to that, for it was being in the wrong place at the wrong time that resulted in his ticket to a federal prison,” U.S. Appeals Court Judge Terence T. Evans wrote in Wade’s appeal.

On Tuesday, Wade’s sentence at a Fort Worth, Texas, federal prison was shaved by nine years as President Obama granted commutations for 22 people, including Wade.

“I am granting your application because you have demonstrated the potential to turn your life around,” Obama wrote in letters to inmates across the country.

Wade, of Chicago, was sentenced to 20 years on May 28, 2004, for possessing 50 or more grams of crack cocaine with intent to distribute.

Wade will now be released on July 28 of this year, instead of 2024.

Wade was arrested after the FBI received a tip that a man named Michael Sullivan would be bringing crack cocaine from Chicago into the Amtrak station in Springfield.

In what the appellate decision called “a stroke of bad luck,” Wade got off the train carrying a duffel bag around the same time Sullivan stepped off. Sullivan was approached and led away. A detective, thinking Sullivan might have a cohort, followed Wade through the station, according to the appeal.

After calling for help, two officers approached Wade and asked to speak with him, suggesting they move inside the station. He obliged. He even gave officers permission to search him. Officers found a plastic bag with 54 grams of crack cocaine inside his jacket.

In his appeal, Wade argued his consent was “illegally detained.” Judge Evans — who died in 2011 — disagreed, saying Wade wasn’t threatened. Wade, who pleaded guilty, never offered his side in court.

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