Andres Torriente – 21 Years – Received Clemency on 1/17/16

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Andres Torriente – 21 Years – Received Clemency on 1/17/16

andrea-torresName: Andres Torriente #09811-031
DOB: 05/19/1972
Age: 44
Race: Black/Hispanic
Married: No
State raised: New York, NY
State Charged: Spartanburg, South Carolina
Release date: 2027
Charge: Conspiracy to Distribute 35 kilograms of cocaine + 851 enhancement
Sentence: 21 years
Years served: 9 years 2 months
Sentence started: Oct 2007
Priors: Possession with intent to distribute 300 lbs of Marijuana
Prison Record: 0 incident reports
Clemency status: Pending. I filed my petition in March 2015 on my own.  The Pardon office contacted my institution in May 2016 to obtain my prison records. case file #(C167-844)
Supporters: New York State Assembly Woman Carmen Arroyo from the 17th district in the Bronx and United States Congressman John Lewis Sr. out of Ga.  CAN-DO Foundation
Institution: Fort Dix Camp NJ
PO Box 2000
Fort Dix NJ 08640
Accomplishments: Currently enrolled into a 2 year Horticulture Apprenticeship program. Completed VT course in Horticulture. Currently enrolled into VT Hydroponics and VT Turf science courses. Completed several ACE courses, including but not limited to: Business law, Real Estate law, Marketing, Business fundamentals, Spanish, World politics and general math. Currently enrolled in Real Estate finance, Import/Export, and intermediate Spanish ACE courses.

Post release plans:
andrea-torres-baby-2The possibility of Clemency has stirred many emotions that I have tried to keep buried for longer than I realized. Awakening my inner spirit has reminded me of a side of myself that I almost forgot was there. Being in here, its hard to remember just being happy for no good reason. The fact my petition is in the last stage of consideration, has made me take the possibility of getting out seriously. Recently I’ve worked out a 10 year business plan which I feel would provide me with a certain level of financial security. If I were to get out, my only responsibilties would be the new bills that I create. If I can manage to live below my means, keep my bills low, and work my plan I feel it would give me the best chance for success. For starters, if I were to be released right now, I have 2 jobs waiting for me. The first with a non-profit organization that helps small businesses find funding. The second would be at a car dealership as a salesman. The second phase of my plan would utilize my background in real estate. Before I was arrested I had 7 years of experience of investing in real estate. I even fixed up homes through a non profit that worked with FCI Cumberland camp back in 2006. Real estate is my passion and I have a thorough understanding of the business. My Mom recently retired and has set aside a substantial amount of money to help me get started. I also have excellent credit so getting started shouldn’t be an issue. I plan to obtain my real estate agent license, then I plan to invest in low income homes to provide rentals. Affordable housing is an arena which I’ve studied extensively and believe is severely underserved. Of course, I have a back up plan because things never seem to go exactly how you have planned them. I’ve recently enrolled into an Apprenticeship program through the Dept of Labor in the field of Horticulture. I currently work full time maintaining 2 Greenhouses at Fort Dix camp in NJ. I’ve recently completed a VT Horticulture course and Im currently enrolled in VT Hydroponics and VT Turf science courses. With these tools, there are numerous opportunities available to me within this field such as: Landscaping, a tree nursery, a Home and Garden store, a botanical garden, a Hydroponic or Aeroponic commercial greenhouse, an organic garden or even a juice bar. The demand for fresh organic food is growing at fast pace and I believe it’s reasonable to say I should be able to find employment opportunities if I continue to educate myself about this growing industry.

andrew-torrres-babyLastly, my mother has been here for me this entire time. My entire life actually. I sincerely believe it’s time for me to be there for her. She is nearly 70 years old and soon won’t be able to take care of herself. I need to be the one who is there when she needs me the most. If I’m not able to do that it’ll be devastating for the both of us. I have a brother who lives out of state but he has 4 children and a family of his own. I would love to finally be there for them to lessen their burden rather than to keep adding to it.

Why I’m seeking clemency:

There were many issues with how my case was handled that I frankly believe were illegal but I do not feel those issues are appropriate to bring up on this platform. That being said, my strongest reason for asking for Clemency is the huge disparity in sentences between my co defendants and I. The Government never clearly laid out what it was believed I did in this crime. I was never considered a person who had a major role, in fact I was told by my lawyer my role in this crime was knowing a crime took place and not alerting the authorities. There were a total of 5 people in my conspiracy. 2 cooperated 3 did not. My case was not based on an investigation, it was based on a car being randomly stopped in a road block. That car had 2 passengers and 35 kilos of cocaine was found in a secret compartment. The driver, Gilchrist, agreed to cooperate. He stated a man named Essex put the drugs in his car and that they had done this 6 times before. Gilchrist stated his passenger, Dixon, was not involved and her charges were dismissed. I was in a car with Essex 5 hours away from this road block along with our 5th co defendant Rodriguez. We were pulled over and arrested. We were all charged with the same 35 kilos. I did not know those drugs were in that car or that that car was even on the road. Gilchrist stated he never saw or ever dealt with me before, and didn’t know who I was. Essex eventually agreed to cooperate and stated I was not involved but implicated Rodriguez as the organizer of this crime. Still I was forced to go to trial. Days before my trial Essex recanted his story and implicated me into this conspiracy, but never clearly stated my role. I was told that if I lost at trial I would receive a life sentence. Essex in his new story implicated other people who were still on the streets and the prosecutor wanted me to corroborate his story so that they could go arrest those individuals. To add pressure to me she filed a 851 enhancement to give me a mandatory 20 year sentence. Without it I would have been facing 12-14 years. Long story short, I took the 20 years rather than gamble with a life sentence. Because I was on probation at the time, I was also violated and given another year to be ran consecutively. So I have a 21 year sentence. By far the most in my case. Gilchrist, the driver, had a longer record than everyone combined and received probation. Essex, did the RDAP program and was home in 3 years. Rodriguez, who did not cooperate and had a previous drug conviction was not enhanced for some reason and received a 16 year sentence for his role as an organizer. Later Rodriguez benefitted from the 2 point reduction and upon completion of the RDAP program he’ll be home next month. I still have 11 years left on my sentence, and because of the statutory nature of my sentence, Clemency may be my last shot. I believe my sentence was much too harsh and unjustified. The Judge in my case stated he wanted to give me less time but “his hands were tied”. Eric Holder, in 2013 mandated to prosecutors to not use the 851 enhancement to force people to cooperate, had I been charged today it’s unlikely I would’ve been enhanced for my previous Marijuana charge. I likely would’ve received 12 years with 5 years probation then I would’ve gotten the 2 point reduction and received 10 years. Under those circumstances I would’ve been home 9-10 months ago. Currently I have 11 years in prison and 10 years of probation remaining on my sentence.

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