Life sentence of Akron drug dealer reduced to 21 years

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — A cocaine trafficker who operated in northeast Ohio in the 1990s has had his life sentence commuted by President Barack Obama and stands to be released in August 2017.

Ervin Worthy, 51, will be released 21 years after he was imprisoned.

Court records show the Akron native was convicted of conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute, possessing a firearm with an altered serial number and possessing a firearm as a convicted felon.

The Akron Beacon Journal reports Worthy and accomplice, Duane “Nip” Guess, were arrested in 1995 as part of a crackdown on a drug trafficking ring that was sending cocaine from New York to Ohio. Guess received a 20-year prison term and was released in August 2012.

Worthy described himself as a mid- to low-level street dealer. He said his sentence was too harsh and has been trying to end his imprisonment since 1997.

“Surely, the severity of my life sentence for a non-violent drug conspiracy has caused a great devastation and impact on my life, family, friends and community,” he wrote in a 2009 blog entry. “I would also like the opportunity again to be a productive citizen and be an asset to my family, friends, and community and to myself.”

Worthy’s lawyer, Max Czernin, told his client was “thrilled” by the news.

While in prison, Czernin said Worthy came up with a mentoring program to help incarcerated individuals reach out to at-risk teens and young adults about gangs, drugs, alcohol abuse and other issues.

“In addition to being shocked at the news, Mr. Worthy wanted to know when he would get out and stated that he was looking forward to sharing the news with his family who supported him every step of the way,” said Czernin.

More than 200 people across the country had their sentences reduced Wednesday — including seven out of Ohio — marking the most in a day since at least 1900.