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Brooklyn federal judge denies drug dealer sentence reprieve

Brooklyn Federal Court Judge Eric Vitaliano. File photo

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

A Brooklyn drug dealer must serve his entire 17-year sentence, Eastern District Judge Eric Vitaliano ruled last week. 

Chaka Raysor was charged in 1996 for heading a large drug distribution operation.  Raysor evaded arrest by fleeing the state and was on the lam from 1996 until he turned himself in to the New York City Police Department 10 years later. In November 2006, Raysor pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess and distribute crack cocaine, receiving a 17-year sentence.

At the time of his sentencing, the court applied the then-active sentencing guidelines, which called for Raysor to be sentenced to a term ranging from 15 to 19.5 years behind bars. During the sentencing phase, the lower court, Vitaliano noted, considered “the advisory guidelines and all the factors…in mitigation,” including the fact that Raysor remained a law-abiding citizen while he was on the run. These factors contributed to Raysor’s sentence of 17 years in prison followed by three years parole.

In 2008 and in 2010, the sentencing guidelines were amended to account for the weight-driven differences in sentencing guidelines for crack and powder cocaine offenses, reducing the 100-to-1 sentencing disparity in crack and powder cocaine offenses to an 18-to-1 disparity.

Raysor argued that under the new guidelines, his sentence would be a maximum of 10 years. “[Raysor’s] guidelines arithmetic appears accurate,” Vitaliano wrote in his opinion.  However, Vitaliano continued, “sentence reduction … is not automatic.”

Factors including promoting respect for the law in the community at large and providing a deterrent against criminality were considered during Raysor’s sentencing hearing, Vitaliano noted. “Raysor's leadership of a notorious criminal gang that perpetrated unspeakable violence,” and the need to “impose punishment reflective of Raysor's serious criminal conduct,” factored into Raysor’s 17-year sentence.  

The largest factor determining Raysor’s sentence was that he enabled murders by virtue of his leadership position within the drug gang.

The fact that the sentencing guidelines have been amended does not change the factors applied to a specific sentence, Vitaliano ruled. “[T]he guideline amendments do not at all speak to the underlying criminal conduct for which  … Raysor was responsible,” wrote Vitaliano.

For these reasons, Vitaliano concluded that any reduction in Raysor’s 17-year sentence would be unwarranted.

August 5, 2013 - 1:30pm


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