Reputed Jamaican drug lord Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke has pleaded with a United States judge for leniency in his sentence.
In a letter to Justice Robert P Patterson Jr of Federal District Court in Manhattan, Coke, described by prosecutors as ‘one of Jamaica’s most brutal drug lords,’ said he accepted responsibility for his actions.
Although he did not apologise in the letter for his actions, Coke, in his seven-page, neatly hand-written letter released to the media on Tuesday, asked Justice Patterson to use his discretion to sentence him ‘below the guideline range’.
Coke, 42, was arrested in Jamaica last year and extradited to Manhattan, where he has since pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges. He could receive a 23-year sentence.
“Good day to you, sir,” he said in the letter to “Justice Patterson,” “I am humbly asking if you could be lenient on me.”
Coke listed 13 reasons why the judge should be lenient, stating, among others, that he recently lost his mother, who had bemoaned his incarceration.
“I was told that while she was on her deathbed, she was crying and kept calling my name,” he wrote.
He also said his eight year old son has been traumatised by his arrest.
“I was told that he is constantly asking for his daddy. He cries all the time. He literally says this, and the originals are going up on the Web since I am gone.”
Coke told Justice Paterson that, after serving his sentence, he would be deported back to Jamaica and would not get the “possibility of ever visiting” his brother or other relatives who reside in New York.
In addition, Coke said his “charitable deeds and social services” helped many in his West Kingston community, including the elderly, the unemployed, parents and a “back-to-school
Coke’s lawyers said he wrote the letter unaided.
Frank A Doddato, one of his lawyers, said Coke ‘humanised’ his client.
“There are two sides to Christopher Coke,” said another lawyer, Stephen H Rosen. “Everyone only talks about one side.”
Prosecutors charged that Coke led a trafficking ring from an armed stronghold in Kingston, moving guns and drugs between Jamaica and the United States.
They charged that Coke and his soldiers patrolled the streets and guarded stash houses.
Prosecutors also charged that Coke ordered murders, shootings and beatings, and, when one man stole drugs, Coke killed him with a chain saw.
Judge Patterson is expected to also hear from prosecutors and victims.
At least one victim has already written. Maxine Riley, who described herself as a resident of the western Kingston area, asked the judge to impose a life sentence.
She charged that Coke was personally responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Jamaicans, including her son, Dexter, who she said was killed by Coke’s gunmen when he was 16.
“I hope that you exercise your judicial discretion to put him away forever,” she wrote.
“Mr Coke is the Hitler of the Caribbean. This is an opportunity for him and his murderous organisation to be permanently dismantled,” she added.
Douglas A Berman, a sentencing law expert at Ohio State University, said there was debate among legal scholars about how much weight judges should give to a defendant’s comments before sentencing.
“Most defense attorneys, I think, would view this kind of correspondence, if done effectively, as a kind of sentencing chicken soup. We’re not sure if it’s going to help, but it certainly can’t hurt,” he added.