Two years ago I could not locate Leopoldo in the BOP data base. I knew he was very sick and thought he may have died, the message said he was not there, but had not been released. We wrote to an inmate who had helped him to ask if he had passed away and the answer was, “Most likely, He was wheeled out of the unit, barely 5’ tall weighing 80 pounds not able to eat and in pain.” Months passed and Leopoldo reappeared, still ill but living.
Leopoldo is a nonviolent Marijuana offender who has been incarcerated since 1993 for the nonviolent offense of possession with intent to distribute marihuana. As is common in cases in which a sentence of this magnitude is imposed, this was a prosecution developed by a law enforcement sting operation and Leopoldo chose to exercise his 6th Amendment Right to Trial. Those who testified against him were co-operating witnesses who were testifying per their plea agreement.
Leopoldo is a 74 year old Cuban who was sentenced to life without parole in 1994. He lived and worked in Cuba for a Fishing Co-operative from 1948 till 1969. In 1969, he fled to the U.S. In the United States, Leopoldo worked for Garcia Bros. and Trufre Bros. as a Fisherman. When he was arrested, he was working for Atilano Dominquez as a painter.
Leoplodo had two priors, one in 1981 and one in 1986 for marijuana possession when marijuana was found on the fishing boat he was working on. The prosecution that brought the sentence of Life without Parole was a sting operation by the FBI against the owner of the marijuana. Atilano Dominquez had another worker pick Leopoldo up and take him to the stash house where his marijuana was stored. Leopoldo was told to guard it. As soon as everyone but Leopoldo left, the house was raided and Leopoldo was arrested
Since 1980 he has had United States residency. He resides in the United States on a white card for Cuban Political Exiles – INS # A23622973
Leopoldo has been married for 33 years to Romona Hernandez and has two children Mario and Yadimi and a child who died. He has two grandchildren and his family is 100% supportive of him and would love to have him home. Now that Leopoldo is in a BOP Medical Facility in North Carolina the family is not able to visit as they do not have the funds to travel from Miami. Prior to his transfer to Butner he was housed in Coleman FCI and his family could visit 3 to 4 times per month. Now he is old, dying and alone.
Leopoldo has multiple health problems but his petition for Compassionate Relief has been denied. With a fourth grade education and limited language skills, it is difficult to communicate with him. Prison phone calls cost more than he could possibly pay, and he can only send letters when he has someone who will write for him.
Leopoldo is a slight fragile man barely 5 feet tall who has had surgery for prostate cancer a hernia and multiple problems associated with his advanced age. For years he was active and worked for Unicor – the Federal Prison Industry for 17 years. He also enjoyed playing softball and dominos.
This aged nonviolent marijuana offender should be released and returned to the loving family that misses him so dearly. He would like to be released so that he does not have to dread dying alone chained to a hospital bed in a BOP Facility.
Incarcerating nonviolent individuals for life style issues could not be what our forefathers envisioned. Leopoldo should be released to die at home.