Obama’s commutations include 8 from Illinois


President Barack Obama stops at the Hoogland Center for the Arts in Springfield, Ill., following his speech at the Illinois State Capitol on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016. (TNS)

Twenty-four years ago, Chicago’s Rudy Martinez told a judge he turned to drug dealing after seeing how hard his mother worked in a laundry for $45 a week.

Martinez, who was a 26-year-old North Side gang leader when he was handed a life term in 1992, will be free at year’s end thanks to a commutation from President Barack Obama. The 50-year-old inmate of Pekin Federal Correctional Institution will be released Dec. 28, the White House said.

He was sentenced for running a multimillion-dollar cocaine ring that ran from Miami to Chicago to St. Paul, Minn. Martinez was one of 111 federal prisoners — eight of them from Illinois — whose sentences were commuted by Obama on Tuesday.


Obama has granted 673 commutations, more than one-third to inmates serving life. The commutations are more than those from the 10 previous presidents combined.

They have been granted to people given “unduly harsh sentences under outdated laws for committing largely nonviolent drug crimes,” said Neil Eggleston, White House counsel.

Another Illinois felon given life had his term commuted to 30 years.

Chicagoan Larry Martin, 57, was sentenced in a drug conspiracy case in 1993.

The others:

— Tyrie Bell, 42, of Sauk Village, who was sentenced in 2000 to 30 years for possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. He was to be released in 2025 but will be out Dec. 28.

— Merlin Coleman, 45, of Chicago, who was sentenced in 2004 to 20 years in prison. He was to be out in 2019 but will be freed Dec. 28.


— Ricardo Gallardo, 37, of Rockford, who was sentenced in 2005 to 30 years in prison in a cocaine, heroin and money-laundering case. His term, shortened in 2014, was commuted to 20 years.

— Antonio Jevon Gayden, 35, of Chicago, who was sentenced in 2009 to 20 years in prison in a cocaine case. His term was cut to 10 years. He was to have been held until 2026.

Obama also granted commutations to Theodore Johnson, 51, of Rock Island, and Daxtrell D. Robinson, 37, of Champaign, both convicted of cocaine offenses.

Johnson was given 30 years and was to be released in 2025; he’ll be out Dec. 28. Robinson was given 20 years and was to be held until 2022; he’ll leave in two years if he completes drug treatment. [email protected]


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