Former Black Dis­ci­ples ‘king’ Thomp­son has fed­eral sen­tence cut

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY FRANK MAIN, STAFF RE­PORTER fmain@sun­times.com | @FrankMainN­ews

A fed­eral judge in Chicago cut the former king of the Black Dis­ci­ples’ 45-year drug-con­spir­acy sen­tence by a third Tues­day but wouldn’t free Marvel Thomp­son.

U.S. Dis­trict Judge Elaine Bucklo re­duced the sen­tence of the ex-leader of one of Chicago’s big­gest street gangs to 30 years after he filed an ap­peal un­der the fed­eral First Step Act and apol­o­gized for his crimes.

Bucklo, who had sen­tenced Thomp­son in 2007, said in her rul­ing Tues­day that he ap­pears to have led a pro­duc­tive life in prison and said that fig­ured into her de­ci­sion.

But Bucklo wrote that she still needed to “pro­mote re­spect for the law, im­pose just pun­ish­ment and pro­vide ad­e­quate de­ter­rence.”

She said “these in­ter­ests would not be served” by slash­ing his sen­tence fur­ther and re­leas­ing him, as he wanted.

In a let­ter to Bucklo, Thomp­son, 52, had said he was sorry for his “il­le­gal mis­deeds” and the Robin Hood per­sona he took on in En­gle­wood, the South Side neigh­bor­hood where he told the judge he’d paid rent for poor par­ents and bought clothes and school sup­plies for their chil­dren.

He ac­knowl­edged, “You can­not si­mul­ta­ne­ously build up and de­stroy that which you pur­port to love.

“I em­barked on a path of il­le­gal mis­deeds that would even­tu­ally com­pletely de­stroy not only my life, but the lives of every per­son I ever loved or cared about, in­clud­ing those in my com­mu­nity I most iden­ti­fied [with] based upon our com­mon ex­pe­ri­ence of liv­ing poor,” he wrote.

Bucklo said she wasn’t sure “the awak­en­ing Mr. Thomp­son de­scribes in his let­ter is gen­uine, as he con­tin­ued to deny his lead­er­ship role in the con­spir­acy as re­cently as 2015.”

Pros­e­cu­tors had op­posed Thomp­son’s

ef­fort to get his sen­tence cut or be re­leased, writ­ing that he “led one of the largest and most vi­o­lent gangs in the city. Gang ac­tiv­ity and the gang life­style he cham­pi­oned con­tin­ues to plague the com­mu­ni­ties he vic­tim­ized.”

Three of Thomp­son’s co-de­fen­dants have al­ready been freed un­der the 2018 First Step Act. And an­other top Black Dis­ci­ples leader, Don­nell Je­han, 52, got his 25-year sen­tence re­duced to 20 years. He’s now set to be re­leased in 2025.

The First Step Act al­lows pris­on­ers to seek re­duc­tions in their sen­tences based on changes in fed­eral drug laws that were en­acted in 2010, re­duc­ing the fed­eral penal­ties for sell­ing crack co­caine.

Thomp­son, who’s be­ing held at a fed­eral prison in Pekin, is among the most no­to­ri­ous of hun­dreds of Chicago crim­i­nals look­ing for a break un­der the First Step Act. Oth­ers con­victed of fed­eral drug crimes in Chicago who have filed sim­i­lar ap­peals in­clude Gang­ster Dis­ci­ples leader Larry Hoover, whose re­quest for a sen­tence re­duc­tion is pend­ing.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump signed the First Step leg­is­la­tion, which had bi­par­ti­san sup­port, after he was lob­bied by the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union and Kanye West.

Pros­e­cu­tors have rou­tinely fought early re­lease re­quests made un­der the First Step Act, but fed­eral judges in Chicago have ap­proved more than 60% of the re­quests they have ruled on un­der that law, the Chicago Sun-Times has re­ported.

Thomp­son be­came king of the Black Dis­ci­ples in the 1990s, suc­ceed­ing im­pris­oned Jerome “Shorty” Free­man, ac­cord­ing to pros­e­cu­tors. They said Thomp­son laun­dered pro­ceeds from il­le­gal drug sales through more than a dozen prop­er­ties and used the build­ings in a mort­gage-fraud scheme even as he gave his time and money to com­mu­nity groups.

Marvel Thomp­son

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