MOBILE, Ala., Feb. 5, 2007 - Facing a possibility of around 188 months in prison, British aristocrat Giles Carlyle-Clarke heard his sentence Monday in federal court in Mobile on charges having to do with his involvement in the smuggling of four tons of marijuana into Baldwin County in 1988. U.S. District Judge William Steele presided over the sentencing.
Carlyle-Clarke and the government had reached a plea agreement in November 2006 on a conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana charge. The other three counts were dismissed. Upon his release from custody, the defendant will report to an immigration official for deportation. He was not fined.
Carlyle-Clarke was sentenced to 36 months with five years of supervised release following that. His attorney Jeff Deen says his client is "obviously relieved that it's over."
Carlyle-Clarke will get credit for time served in prison in the U.K., about three months, and credit for time served after he volunteered to turn himself over to U.S. custody, about seven months, which will reduce his time to around 26 months, of which he will probably end up serving around 85 percent of that time, according to his attorney. Prosecutors had recommended 54 months to the judge.
Deen says his client had no criminal history prior to or after the event and previously in the case U.S. Magistrate Judge William Cassady in considering whether or not the defendant could be released on house arrest said that since the time of the alleged events "it does not appear that he has been involved in any criminal conduct, even assuming the charges are correct, since 1988."
Deen says his client's father, his step-mother, his solicitor from the U.K, Graham Compton and his barrister David Hood were extremely eloquent in making Carlyle-Clarke's case before the judge and Deen says they contributed greatly to the outcome of the case.
Deen says the U.S. Marshals were also "very accommodating" to his client in letting him visit with his 81-year-old father who had flown over from Dorset, England to try and see his son. Deen says the two got to spend about 15 minutes talking with each other at the defense table before Carlyle-Clarke was taken away.
Deen says his client's father, Richard Carlyle-Clarke, told him both father and son were "choked up emotionally and didn't get to say a lot" but all were appreciative that the judge and the marshals were "very considerate" to give them time together.
Carlyle-Clarke was indicted in 1992 alleged to have been involved in the "extensive marijuana smuggling organization operated by admitted smugglers husband and wife Billy and Ruby Williams, among others."
Prosecutors said that the Williams' owned a residence in the area of Roberts Bayou in Baldwin County. The government says in May of 1988 a "search warrant was executed" at the residence and "a specially outfitted sailboat was tied to the pier behind the house. In addition to the seizure of a massive amount of documents from the house, federal and state agents seized approximately 7,000 pounds of marijuana and 246 gallons of hashish oil imported into Alabama from Jamaica. The sailboat essentially had a double hull, creating a large compartment between the original hull and the outside hull. The subsequent investigation revealed that the drugs seized in Alabama were the last of a series of loads imported into the United States from Jamaica, and it has resulted in the arrest and prosecution of more than 60 defendants."
In the factual document filed with the plea agreement the government says Clarke also went to a "farm house off County Road 97...to examine the marijuana stored there in the garage. The government says in 1987 Carlyle-Clarke helped others remove marijuana from a Morgan sailboat Clarke captained in St. Petersburg, Florida and met with others at the Best Western Motel in Gulf Shores in 1988.
Clarke was originally hired to captain the 41-foot Morgan to sail from Jamaica to St. Petersburg on more than one occasion. In early 1988 the government says Carlyle-Clarke was part of smuggling marijuana from Jamaica to Baldwin County. Clarke traveled to Alabama and inspected the marijuana. "The parties agree that Clarke is accountable for 15,000 pounds of marijuana, and that the Government can prove that amount beyond a reasonable doubt."
Carlyle-Clarke had fought extradition for years and has been a furniture importer and in the yacht delivery business among other ventures.
Jeff Deen won acquittal for Paul Hamrick in the government corruption trial in 2006 in Montgomery, along with co-counsel and Montgomery native, Michel Nicrosi.
Reported by: Helen Hammons