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One of the defendants in the Operation Rockfish police corruption case is seeking compassionate release from federal custody due to fears associated with the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Lann Clanton, who was described in previously filed court records as the ringleader and was recruited by the FBI to guard shipments of fake cocaine and heroin, received a 16 ½ year sentence in June of 2017.

In an April 19 letter to Senior United States District Judge Malcolm Howard in Greenville, Clanton wrote from New Jersey, where he is serving his time, “We are all experiencing hard, stressful emotional times. That is the reason I write to you today.”

Court records show the letter was marked as received on April 24 and, as of this report, Howard has not acted upon the request.

In asking for compassionate release, Clanton wrote, “I have been using my time wisely by working two jobs, seven days per week. I have also taken several classes which are beneficial. My conduct has been clear with no write-ups or disciplinary action of any kind.”

But, Clanton wrote, “Ever since we all began dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, I can personally and honestly tell you that I am afraid.”

At his housing unit, Clanton wrote, “I live with approximately 200 to 250 inmates plus staff members who work in the unit. If someone were to become infected with COVID-19, it would spread quickly to everybody.”

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Fort Dix Federal Correctional Institution where he is incarcerated, has 27 confirmed positive inmate cases of the novel coronavirus and three staff members have tested positive. There have been no inmate or staff deaths from the disease.

It is impossible, he wrote, to socially distance himself from others while incarcerated. ·

He also fears for his children, he wrote. “I love (them) more than life itself. Truly, I do, but I am worried about them. Since I have been locked up, I have not been able to share important moments, be there for milestones, or spend time with then as they grow."

One has taken the separation hard, he wrote, and has become depressed. The child is doing better, Clanton wrote. “I have promised (the child) I will call more to help strengthen our bond and I pray for the best. But this is a worry that is constantly on my mind.”

He said he also fears for another family who has underlying conditions which could impact them if they were to get the novel coronavirus — high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and other health concerns. “If (the family member) gets sick with COVID-19, I wonder who will take care (of them). If (the family member) were to pass away, who would make the arrangements? These are only a few of my fears. I could share more, but I know you have so much to do.”

Clanton said in his letter to the judge, “I know I made a terrible decision to take part in ‘Operation Rockfish.’ I will always regret that decision, but it has also taught me so much. I have learned the importance of family, my role as a father, as a son, as a productive citizen.”

He continues the letter, saying, “But I humbly come to you now, Judge Howard, not only asking, but begging you please consider me for compassionate release or reduction of my sentence. Such a compassionate act will help keep me safe from COVID-19 so I can continue to be there for my children, helping them, guiding them, and being an active part of their lives. It would also ensure I can be there to take care of my mother and keep her safe from this terrible disease.”

Clanton wrote, should he get compassionate release, he has a place to live, good job prospects “and my conduct while in prison shows I do not pose any danger to my community.”

Wrote Clanton: “I hope you can find it in your heart to grant me not just a second chance, but the opportunity to save myself from this pandemic and be with my family during this trying time.”

Clanton is projected to be released September 20, 2030, according to a copy of his re-entry plan program review, which was enclosed with his letter to Howard.

According to his progress review, it is noted, “Since inmate Clanton’s previous program review, he has maintained clear conduct, evidenced good work reports and completed electronics, parenting and 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Overall, he has demonstrated outstanding progress! Great job!”