Rapper Nabs One of Bush's Prison Passes
A Grammy Award-winning rapper and music producer originally sentenced to 14 years in prison for smuggling cocaine is one of 16 people receiving pardons or reduced sentences from President Bush.
John Edward Forte of North Brunswick, N.J., a graduate of the elite Phillips Exeter Academy prep school who later became a producer for the rap group The Fugees and released two albums on his own, was caught in 2000 at Newark International Airport with two briefcases filled with $1.4 million worth of liquid cocaine, according to court documents.
Forte, 33, a first-time offender, was convicted of possessing the 31 pounds of cocaine with intent to distribute and was sentenced to a minimum of 14 years at Fort Dix, N.J. (Forte's Web site)
With the commutation, Forte will be released Dec. 22, after serving just over seven years. He still faces five years of supervised probation.
Among vocal advocates on Forte's behalf have been singer Carly Simon, along with her son James, and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).
A song off of Forte's 1998 album:
"Now is the perfect opportunity for John to be given the chance to provide positive benefits to society through his considerable musical talents," Hatch wrote to Bush in a January 2007 letter.
Forte was one of two inmates who received reduced sentences. He pardoned 14 others.
One of the pardon cases was Leslie Owen Collier, a farmer from Charleston, Mo. He pleaded guilty in February 1996 to two counts of taking bald eagles and one count of using poisoned bait to kill animals on his farm. The victims were three bald eagles, a red-tailed hawk, a great horned owl, a opossum, a raccoon and seven coyotes. Collier was sentenced to two years' probation, barred from possessing a firearm during that period, and ordered to pay $10,000 in restitution.
By Derek Kravitz |
November 24, 2008; 6:41 PM ET
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