Court roundup for Feb. 20

  • Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 11:57 p.m.

Two local felons have sentences vacated

Two more local felons have had their sentences vacated due to a 2012 Supreme Court decision.

Johnnie Lee Hamilton, 26, and Lorenzo Damond Parker, 24, both of North Augusta were sentenced to more than 10 years in prison. However, due to a change in federal sentencing guidelines, they will likely get reduced sentences.

They were sentenced to at least the mandatory minimum of 10 years, which should not have been considered, as it no longer exists. Hamilton was sentenced to 10 years, 10 months and Parker sentenced to 10 years. Their convictions are unaffected by the vacating of their sentences.

The pair fall in a specific category of those who committed crimes related to trafficking crack cocaine before a change in law, but were sentenced afterward.

Changes were made in the sentencing guidelines in 2010. Before then, there existed a significant disparity in the severity of sentences for the possession of crack cocaine versus powder cocaine. Possession of 1 gram of powder cocaine would receive the same punishment as 100 grams of crack cocaine. Federal drug crime sentences increase by the amount of the drug. However, this has now changed, and they are treated more equally.

Sentencing dates have not been set for either defendant.

Former SRS employee sentenced for fraud

A former Savannah River Site employee who embezzled nearly $20,000 has been sentenced for fraudulently obtaining funds through a DOE per diem program.

Jefferey Richardson of Graniteville pleaded guilty to a one-count indictment in September and now faces five years on probation. He could have been jailed for five years.

Richardson claimed a fraudulent address as his home and collected $19,226.87 in per diem benefits. The program is designed so contractors can work away from their permanent home, keep local lodging and be able to pay for both.

According to information presented at sentencing, Richardson will pay $100 a month in restitution.

These type of cases have been seen many times in Aiken County in recent years. Since 2011, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has worked with DOE’s Office of Investigations to investigate schemes related to American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding. The previous investigations resulted in criminal convictions as well as civil settlements, and the recovery of more than $1 million, of which more than $700,000 was ARRA funding, according to that office.

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