Obama Gives Clemency to Correct a Typo

President Barack Obama sits behind his desk after addressing the nation from the Oval Office of the White House

Photograph by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

President Barack Obama sits behind his desk after addressing the nation from the Oval Office of the White House

The scales of justices turned out to be in error for Ceasar Huerta Cantu, and President Barack Obama intervened today to make a correction.

Cantu, of Katy, Texas, pleaded guilty in 2006 to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana and money laundering in the Western District of Virginia. He was then sentenced 180 months, or 15 years, in prison.

Here’s the rub: because of a typographical error that was 42 months longer than he should have gotten.

The terms of his plea deal under sentencing guidelines were for what is called a base offense level of 34.  Instead, he was assigned a base offense level of 36, increasing the penalty.

A judge ruled that Cantu didn’t learn about the mistake in time to correct it through the courts.  
The only remedy was an act of clemency by the president.  So Obama today commuted Cantu’s sentence to 138 months.

Call it the court of last resort.

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