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Court Cuts Sentence for Entrapped LSD Defendant


November 1994

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that a man who was persuaded by an agent to sell more LSD than he wanted was entitled to a downward departure because he was entrapped (U.S. v. Staufer, CA9, No. 93-50173, Oct. 26, 1994; 56 CrL 1121; BNA Criminal Practice Manual, Nov. 9, 1994, p. 550).

The defendant claimed at his trial that he wanted to sell only 5,000 doses of LSD to the agent, but that the agent demanded 10,000. Because he was in financial straits, the defendant decided to carry out the transaction. The judge found that the defendant's actions did not warrant the punishment outlined in the sentencing guidelines, which the judge said required him "to give [the defendant] more time in prison than [he was] authorized to give a man who murdered his wife on their honeymoon." However, the judge said that he did not have the authority to lessen the defendant's sentence.

On appeal the court ruled that the defendant was entitled to a shorter sentence because the agent was so manipulative that the defendant was entrapped.