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Terrance Williams, half-brother Birdman Williams and Ronald Williams, both co-founders of Cash Money Records was released from prison earlier this month . Terrence Williams, who allegedly helped fund Cash Money in the 1990s, was behind bars for more than 20 years, sentenced to life imprisonment. The conditions of his release are still not understood.

Convicted of participating in a criminal enterprise

As a member of the Hot Boys gang , he sold heroin and organized assassinations and was eventually arrested by the FBI through wiretaps. Court records indicated that he planned to kill a group of New York traffickers in New Orleans in order to get paid for the heroin they had shipped through the mail. Taken in by the feds, he pleaded guilty to participating in an ongoing criminal enterprise and soliciting murder before being sentenced to more than 20 years in prison.

Unexpectedly released….after cooperating with justice

Terence Williams was unexpectedly released on January 3 after Judge Ivan Lemelle sentenced him to 27.5 years. The Federal Bureau of Prisons website says he was released from prison at age 47. In view of the unexpected nature of his release, everything suggests that the former gangster cooperated with the authorities, by disclosing valuable information that could advance public action. 

Indeed, court records show that Williams began helping the government after his arrest, although the government did nothing to help him. In 1999, prosecutors filed a ”  5K ” motion, noting his “substantial assistance” in securing guilty verdicts from co-defendants. »

As prosecutors explain , “Defendant also provided information to state authorities regarding a number of murders and urged individuals who had witnessed murders to come forward as witnesses and to contact others. But a co-defendant implicated Williams in two murders after his guilty pleas, and prosecutors declined to recommend a sentence reduction.

It is therefore established that Williams provided additional inside information to the government in the years that followed that worked in his favor. U.S. Sentencing Commission data shows one in six defendants received a benefit for cooperation in 2020, roughly twice the national rate, in federal districts based in New Orleans and Baton Rouge .

But protected by legislation

Federal law generally requires judges to “state in open court the reasons for the imposition of a particular sentence ,” but in 2001 the federal court system began to restrict the public disclosure of judges’ reasons for conviction, citing the inmate safety.

As a result, judges often obscure the accused’s cooperation and benefits by sealing records, hearings and transcripts.

The Bureau of Prisons has also banned inmates from carrying their sentencing papers, following reports of assaults on those papers. Just six years ago, a task force formed by the federal judiciary recommended limiting online access to plea and conviction records throughout the federal court system, but that recommendation has not yet been adopted.

“Defendants want their cooperation to be secret for their safety; prosecutors want it secret so defendants won’t be afraid to cooperate ,” U.S. District Judge D. Brock Hornby wrote in a 2019 article . happened during a particular federal conviction. »

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