U.S. District Judge Michael Reagan shortened the sentence of former East St. Louis detective Orlando Ward, who took $5,000 to guide a cocaine shipment through the region.
Reagan signed and sealed an order on July 1, granting a sealed motion from U.S. Attorney Stephen Wigginton to reduce Ward’s sentence from five years.
The size of the reduction will remain secret until the Bureau of Prisons posts a new release date on its website.
Wigginton, Reagan and District Judge David Herndon have now eased punishment for seven prisoners from three public corruption cases.
Former Madison County treasurer Fred Bathon, who rigged bids in the courthouse, gained freedom ahead of schedule through Herndon.
Reagan cut in half the sentences of former St. Clair County probation officer James Fogarty, who supplied cocaine to the late judge Joe Christ, and Sean McGilvery, who supplied heroin to former judge Michael Cook.
Prior to signing an order for Ward, Reagan had shortened sentences of three other prisoners from the same conspiracy.
Federal law allows reduction of sentences for prisoners who provide information leading to new prosecutions, but no new prosecutions have occurred.
Wigginton has not explained the shorter sentences to the public, and spokesman James Porter did not return a call about Ward.
Agents caught Ward in a trap they set for suspect Martez Moore, according to a plea agreement Ward signed in 2013.
On April 24, 2013, Moore introduced Ward to an apparent dealer from Los Angeles who actually worked for Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
“Defendant said it was a good time to start cocaine distribution because law enforcement was focused on unlawful possession of firearms,” the agreement states.
The agent gave Ward $2,500, half of what Moore had told him Ward wanted.
On April 30, the agent gave Ward a license plate number and asked for information.
The agent and Ward met a restaurant, and Ward provided the information.
The agent said the shipment would come through on May 7, and Ward said he would know of any law enforcement plans for that date by May 3.
The agent gave him $2,500.
On May 3, Ward called the agent and told him all was clear.
On May 7, agents arrested Moore, Ward, two dealers and three armed guards.
Grand jurors indicted all seven on a charge of conspiring to distribute cocaine.
Ward pleaded guilty in six months.
He and Wigginton submitted that sentencing guidelines placed him in a range from seven years and three months to nine years.
Wigginton recommended a sentence at the low end of the range, but Reagan contemplated a sentence lower than that.
In April of last year, he asked if Ward qualified for a “safety valve” provision recognizing a defendant’s work as a police officer.
No such briefs appeared on the public record.
At a hearing last May, Reagan imposed a sentence of five years.