Man Facing 14 Years Gets 4 1/2 for Drug Sale : Courts: Ex-convict became an activist while out on bail. But the detective who made arrest feels betrayed by judge’s decision.
In a decision that dismayed police and prosecutors, a federal judge sentenced an ex-convict who confessed to selling drugs near a Pacoima school to 4 1/2 years in prison Monday.
U.S. District Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr. ignored the provisions of an agreement in which Bobbie Marshall pleaded guilty in exchange for a 14-year prison term. Hatter further reduced the sentence because Marshall has devoted his life to community service since his arrest, according to the prosecutor.
“We feel betrayed by the U.S. attorney’s office,” said Los Angeles Police Detective Everett Berry, who arrested Marshall.
Assistant U.S. Atty. Steven Madison said his office may appeal the sentence, which was half of the nine-year term his office had agreed to. Because Marshall was in custody for 18 months awaiting trial, his sentence was further reduced.
Marshall was charged in a nine-count indictment after his arrest in 1989 for selling crack cocaine from his home, located across the street from the Vaughn Learning Center in Pacoima. At that time, he faced a life term without possibility of parole if convicted due to three prior drug-dealing convictions, Madison said.
Under the deal made in 1991, Marshall pleaded guilty to a single felony count of possession of crack cocaine with the intent to distribute near a schoolyard in exchange for a 14-year federal prison term. Marshall’s lawyer, Denise Meyer, could not be reached for comment.
Since he was freed on bail in 1990, Marshall’s sentencing was delayed because Hatter allowed him to continue his volunteer work. Marshall became a committed community activist, said Madison, leading prosecutors to agree to the further reduction in his sentence to nine years.
“He performed laudable community work and he is on the way to rehabilitating himself,” said Madison.
“This case is very unique,” said Madison. “The judge took a chance on him and it worked out.”
Based on Marshall’s record of service, prosecutors also decided not to object to Hatter’s repeated decisions to postpone sentencing.
Marshall helped the children at Vaughn Learning Center by speaking about drugs and gang violence.
Vaughn Principal Yvonne Chan said she was shocked to learn that Marshall had admitted selling cocaine near her school.
“I must have seen Bobbie’s good side,” Chan said Monday. “He has not done anything to hurt this school or the children.
“Has he done everything he can for the community? Yes. Can I vouch for the good work he did for the past three years? Yes,” Chan said.