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Baltimore gun criminal gets mandatory 15-year sentence

Defense counsel assails lack of judicial discretion

"We are committed to working with our law enforcement partners to get guns out of the hands of criminals," says Robert K. Hur, the United States Attorney for the District of Maryland, shown in an earlier photo.

“We are committed to working with our law enforcement partners to get guns out of the hands of criminals,” says Robert K. Hur, the United States Attorney for the District of Maryland, shown in an earlier photo.

A felon who tried to sell two semi-automatic weapons to an undercover Baltimore police officer will spend the next 15 years in a federal prison.

U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake handed down the punishment Tuesday against Devan Mack, who earlier pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. The 15-year sentence will be followed by at least three years of supervised release.

Mack was caught in a joint federal and Baltimore law enforcement sting conducted under the U.S. Justice Department’s “Project Safe Neighborhoods” and “Project Guardian,” which are designed to prevent violent street crime through staunch enforcement of federal gun-control laws, Maryland U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur’s office said in a statement.

On Nov. 29, 2018, Mack sold two 9mm semi-automatic pistols – one reported stolen and the other with 17 rounds of ammunition – to the undercover officer for $1,400 in the 2900 block of Gwynns Falls Ave., according to his guilty plea. Mack had been thrice convicted of serious drug offenses, which barred him from possessing a firearm and made him an “armed career criminal” under federal law, subjecting him to a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 15 years, Hur’s office stated.

“We are committed to working with our law enforcement partners to get guns out of the hands of criminals, like Devan Mack, and off of our streets, in order to reduce violent crime in our neighborhoods,” Hur said in a statement. “Mack now faces 15 years of federal time, where there is no parole – ever. Please, put down the guns and save a life – maybe even your own.”

Mack’s attorney, William R. Buie III, assailed mandatory minimum sentences as stripping federal judges of the ability to craft a punishment that fits the individual criminal and considers his or her potential for rehabilitation and contributing to society.

“The judge really doesn’t have any discretion,” Buie said. “You’re not having a sentencing hearing. You’re just plugging in numbers.”

Buie added that mandatory sentencing has disproportionately affected Black defendants and has helped spur a nationwide call for criminal justice reform.

“This is what everybody is protesting about,” he said.

Under federal law, Blake had no choice but to sentence Mack to 15 years in prison, which means he will be about 50 years old when he is released, said Buie, a Baltimore solo practitioner.

“Hopefully, he will get out there and do positive things,” the lawyer added. “At the end of the day, Mr. Mack is going to show us you can come back and be a productive citizen.”

The case was docketed at the U.S. District Court in Baltimore as United States of America v. Devan Mack, No. 1:19-cr-00056-CCB.


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