Like many other presidents, Trump used his power to pardon at the end of his term to make a political statement about the severity of certain punishments in the criminal justice system. Pardons are typically handed out to people with famous cases that can be viewed as having served their ‘just’ time.
In 2004, Weldon Angelos was convicted and given a 55-year sentence without the possibility (due to mandatory minimums) of parole for trying to sell $350 worth of illegal marijuana to an undercover police officer. That led to a series of other charges involving drugs, weapons, and money laundering.
This pardon, which came alongside 14 other pardons for other individuals, was obviously a relief to Angelos. He went on Instagram and was very thankful for the pardon, but is still insistent that more needs to be done in criminal justice reform. Angelos believes that this is a step in the right direction, however, and maybe advocating for further reforms in the United States.
Angelos was an executive producer on one of Snoop Dogg’s projects at the time of his arrest (We From the LBC Soundtrack). Once arrested, Angelos was offered a plea deal that would have reduced his sentence to 15 years, but he refused to take it because of concerns of being a “rat” or “snitch.” He was then found guilty on 13 charges that ranged from drugs to money laundering to firearms. Because of these 13 counts and mandatory minimum sentencing, Angelos was given 55 to 63 years and was projected to get out in 2051.
President Obama eventually commuted Angelos’s sentence after considerable pleading in 2016, which ended the time he was required to serve. But with the full pardon, Angelos’s record will be fully expunged and he will no longer be considered a felon. This will also restore his full rights as a U.S. citizen.
Trump’s pardon has also drummed up some speculation that further marijuana decriminalization could be ahead. In addition, the move has given some Kodak Black fans hope that President Trump may help get Kodak out of prison for his charge of falsifying documents when trying to buy a firearm. Neither of these rumors has been confirmed, but are distinct possibilities for the Trump administration, with less than a month left in office.