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Wolf commutes convicted drug dealer’s 125-year sentence

December 19, 2018

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has issued his first act of clemency in more than two years, commuting a convicted drug dealer’s sentence.

Sixty-year-old Benny Ortega had served nearly 23 years in prison on a 125- to 292-year sentence for selling marijuana and cocaine. The governor’s office says Ortega is now eligible to apply for parole.

A spokesman for Wolf says Ortega had taken steps toward rehabilitating himself and that the governor viewed his sentence as “egregious and inhumane.”

Monday’s commutation put Ortega’s name on the January docket for the state parole board’s consideration.

The commutation is Wolf’s first since 2016 and his third since taking office in 2015. The governor’s office says Wolf is considering commuting the sentences of two other inmates, both serving life sentences.

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This story has been corrected to show that Ortega’s sentence was for 125- to 292-years in prison, instead of life, and that he is now eligible to apply for parole, instead of being required to serve a year in a state halfway house.

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