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Former Northeast Ohio boxer has drug sentence commuted by President Joe Biden

WASHINGTON, DC — President Joe Biden is commuting the 2009 prison sentence of an eleven-promising boxer from Northeast Ohio convicted of conspiracy to distribute cocaine.

Julian Burford of Bedford, Ohio, is among 75 people serving long sentences for non-violent drug offenses whose sentences Biden commuted on Tuesday. A statement from Biden said many of those on his list would have received a lower sentence if they were charged with the same offense today, thanks to the bipartisan First Step Act, which was signed into law by former President Donald Trump.

The White House said Burford’s 20-year prison sentence would expire on August 24, 2022, but his 10-year term of supervised release will remain intact. Burford, 53, is currently housed at a minimum-security federal prison in Morgantown, West Virginia.

Biden said he is issuing the commutations and pardoning three people already released from prison as part of “Second Chance Month” efforts to help formerly incarcerated people re-enter society.

“America is a nation of laws and second chances, redemption, and rehabilitation,” Biden said in a statement. “Elected officials on both sides of the aisle, faith leaders, civil rights advocates, and law enforcement leaders agree that our criminal justice system can and should reflect these core values ​​that enable safer and stronger communities.

His administration is also announcing a new collaboration between the Justice and Labor departments to provide job training for those re-entering society after incarceration. The program includes new grants for workforce development programs, greater opportunities to serve in the federal government, expanded access to capital for people with convictions trying to start a small business, improved reentry services for veterans and more support for health care, housing, and educational opportunities.

“While today’s announcement marks important progress, my Administration will continue to review clemency petitions and deliver reforms that advance equity and justice, provide second chances, and enhance the wellbeing and safety of all Americans,” Biden’s statement said.

Burford and an accomplice were accused of operating a cocaine ring in 2009 after officers from Cleveland, Bedford and Garfield Heights seized 70 pounds of the drug that police said had a street value of $5 million.

Before his 2009 arrest, Burford had won the local Golden Gloves boxing tournament and twice advanced to the semifinals of the national tournament, where he notched a win over future middleweight world champion Jermain Taylor. Burford then turned pro, compiling a record of 12-2 with 10 knockouts. He lost his last professional fight in 2005.

He also faced drug charges in 2001, when federal authorities accused him of operating a cocaine pipeline between Cleveland and Detroit. He was convicted of drug trafficking in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court in 1992 and spent two years in prison, according to state records.

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