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Wrongly Imprisoned African American Businessman Ignored by Obama Freed Under Trump’s First Step Act



Sarokin | Wrongly Imprisoned African American Businessman Ignored by Obama Freed Under Trump's First Step Act | Featuredd
Screenshot of Sarokin Freedom Celebration Provide by Family

It’s a well-known and accepted fact that the inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system have been a scourge that has disproportionately damaged African American communities and families and impaired the ability of a fair percentage of Black Americans to thrive in America.

On January 2, 2020, thanks to President Trump and his administration spearheading the passage of the bipartisan First Step Act (FSA), Clinton Stewart (one of the wrongly-convicted African-American technology executives known as the IRP5 (formerly “IRP6”), was released early from an unlawful 10 year imprisonment received at the hands of the Obama Justice Department.

Obama was given an opportunity to grant clemency to the IRP6 after former federal appeals judge H. Lee Sarokin (Retired, 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals) sent him a personal letter telling him that the IRP6 were not only innocent, but also victims of an unjust conviction and incarceration due to government misconduct.

Judge Sarokin, who exhaustively reviewed the case, including trial records, said the wrongful conviction of the IRP6 was the worst injustice he’d ever witnessed in over 60 years in the law.

“The government’s contention that their business was a scam defies reality,” Sarokin told the Washington Post in 2016. “All the proof in the case goes the opposite way,” added Sarokin.

The IRP6 were “indicted and imprisoned for failing to pay their [corporate] bills,” Sarokin exclaimed to the Post. Current IRP5 attorney, Bernard Kleinman says the IRP5 injustice far rivals that of the late Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) whose conviction was overturned and indictment dismissed after Washington, DC district court judge, the Honorable Emmet Sullivan, determined that federal prosecutors from Obama’s DOJ systematically concealed evidence that proved Senator Stevens was innocent.

Three of the innocent IRP6 (David Banks, Demetrius Harper and David Zirpolo) whose clemency applications (along with Stewart’s and Kendrick Barnes) have been pending for nearly two years, remain imprisoned at the federal prison camp in Florence, Colorado because of (1) judicial negligence/misconduct and (2) the BOP’s deliberate insubordination to President Trump in apathetically implementing the FSA.

“Most people probably believed that President Trump didn’t really care about criminal justice,” says Lamont Banks, Executive Director of justice advocacy organization, A Just Cause. “But he did pass the largest, most transformative criminal justice reform bill out of the five past administrations and possibly the largest in history, adds Banks. “And the African-American community is better for it,” says Banks.

“Whether you like or dislike President Trump or agree or disagree with his politics, he deserves credit for not only aggressively driving the passage of the FSA into law but also for the early release of Clinton Stewart,” says Banks. “Obama, however, deserves harsh criticism for playing politics with the IRP5’s freedom, leaving the innocent IRP5 behind to rot in prison for 7 to 11 years and disregarding Judge Sarokin, a prolific legal expert who spent 17 years on the federal bench after being nominated by two Democratic Presidents and confirmed twice by the U.S. Senate,” adds Banks.

“You can’t find a more credible whistleblower than Judge Sarokin,” exclaims Banks. “After Bradley “Chelsea” Manning admitted guilt to disseminating thousands of pages of classified materials that ultimately resulted in the death of American soldiers, Obama granted Manning clemency, claiming she was having a hard time in prison,” says Banks. “I guess innocent African-American businessmen spending 7 to 11 years in prison for a crime they didn’t commit were having a great time, so Obama didn’t feel like they were worthy of a pardon,” muses Banks. “Obama was a swamp politician who was too political to use clemency power to serve the cause of justice for the innocent IRP5,” concludes Banks.

According to a dissenting opinion by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in Dretke v. Haley, 541 U.S. 386, 399 (2004) , “clemency power can correct injustices that the ordinary criminal process seems unable or unwilling to consider.” “These mechanisms hold out the promise that mercy is not foreign to our system,” added Justice Kennedy. “The law must serve the cause of justice,” opined Justice Kennedy.

“I was released early because of the First Step Act, of which I am thankful to President Trump,” says Clinton Stewart. “The Washington Post said only Obama could save us, but we now have a President in Trump who did more than pay lip service to criminal justice reform,” adds Stewart. “My freedom, however, is bitter-sweet because three of my innocent brothers are still in bonds and were put there because the system was rigged against us,” laments Stewart. “Thank you again, President Trump,” concludes Stewart.

President Trump, Stewart and the First Step Act were celebrated by a sizable, emotional and vociferous crowd of people as Stewart walked out of the Florence prison complex. The crowd, many of whom were African-American parishioners from the predominantly African-American Colorado Springs Fellowship Church where Stewart has been a member for nearly four decades, hoisted Trump signs and shouted “Trump! Trump! Trump!”

When Stewart stepped onto free ground the crowd encircled him and greeted him with hugs and love. Both Stewart and his daughter Tiffany were interviewed on camera and personally thanked President Trump. One observer said the excitement and praise for Trump was so loud it reminded him of a baseball game.

Watch the full video of President Trump addressing Prison Reform here at Fox 10: 

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