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Federal charge calls for 20-year sentence for political donor

The wealthy political donor known for contributing to high-profile candidates like Barack Obama and Gavin Newsom could face a mandatory minimum 20-year prison sentence if convicted on federal drug charges. A grand jury in a California federal court indicted the 65-year-old man after he was arrested on state charges for allegedly operating a drug house in West Hollywood.

According to the indictment, the man distributed methamphetamine that caused a man to die in January and another previous death in 2017. Prosecutors claim that the man injected men with drugs before having sex with them. Relatives of the alleged victims believe that he targeted gay African American men, some of whom were sex workers, because authorities would not take crimes against them as seriously. Family members believe that the man's reputation as a wealthy political donor shielded him from local law enforcement despite mounting evidence of illegal activity.

One man said that he escaped the man's house after overdosing twice in one week. Another person said that the man threatened him with a power saw. Once local law enforcement investigated the case and arrested the man, federal prosecutors sought federal charges against him. The man's lawyer said that his client denies causing any deaths.

The strong penalties associated with most federal crimes might prompt a criminal suspect to seek legal advice. A lawyer familiar with the federal court system might evaluate the case and explain whether or not the evidence appears strong enough to produce a conviction in court. Legal insights like this might help a person choose between pursuing a plea deal or standing trial. In either situation, a lawyer might act to protect the person's rights and challenge assumptions made by prosecutors. Legal representation might reduce the severity of charges and limit penalties.

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