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Clinton Commutes 4 Womens Sentences

July 10, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Clinton has commuted the prison sentences of four women who were convicted of drug crimes but received much harsher sentences than men involved in the cases, a White House spokesman said Sunday.

``The president felt they had served a disproportionate amount of time,″ said spokesman Jake Siewert. ``They received much more severe sentences than their husbands and boyfriends.″

The women freed under Friday’s order were Louise House, Shawndra Mills, Amy Pofahl and Serena Nunn.

One man, Alain Orozco, also was ordered freed after serving time on a drug conviction.

``I thought they were joking with me at first,″ Nunn told ABC News, which first reported on the commutations. ``After I realized it was actually happening, I began to tremble and one of the staff members asked me if I wanted to take a seat. Right after that, the tears just started flowing.″

Authorities said Nunn was convicted after being drawn into a Minneapolis drug ring by her boyfriend, but received a stiff 14-year sentence after refusing to inform on him. She served 10 years before her release.

The federal judge who sentenced her lobbied the White House for her early release.

``I frankly have never written a letter to the president before asking that one of my sentences by commuted,″ U.S. District Judge David Doty told ABC News. ``Ms. Nunn was obviously guilty of a crime, but a crime that did not deserve the penalty the court was required to impose under the sentenciung guidelines.″

He referred to guidelides imposed by Congress in the 1980s, requiring mandatory sentences for a number of drug violations. The guidelines have be criticized by a number of federal judges who complain they strip them of discretion.

Pofahl was convicted along with her husband, a Stanford University Law School graduate and wealthy Dallas businessman, in connection with the drug Ecstasy. While he received three years probation, she was sentenced to 24 years without parole.

My knees buckled,″ Pofahl told ABC News. ``I was overwhelmed. I just felt incredible that I was free to do things without someone looking over my shoulder.″

The Pofahl case was profiled in Glamour magazine last year and the Star Tribune of Minneapolis wrote about the Nunn case in late 1997.

Details of the House and Mills cases were not available from the White House.

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