By Julia Edwards and Aruna Viswanatha WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department laid out new clemency guidelines on Wednesday that are expected to make thousands of drug offenders eligible for a reduction in the sentences they are currently serving. Under the new guidelines, inmates that were sentenced under laws that have since changed, have served at least 10 years of their sentence and are nonviolent may be re-examined by the Justice Department and suggested to the president for clemency. Deputy Attorney General James Cole, who announced the details of the plan, said the most obvious candidates for review were those sentenced before a 2010 law that lowered the terms for crack cocaine possession charges. "These older, stringent punishments that are out of line with sentences imposed under today's laws erode people's confidence in our criminal justice system," Cole said at a news conference on Wednesday.
By Aruna Viswanatha WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department is considering charging a former Blackwater Worldwide security guard with murder over his alleged role in a 2007 massacre of unarmed civilians in Baghdad, a federal prosecutor said on Wednesday. The Justice Department is weighing "all available options" against Nicholas Slatten including first-degree murder, Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Asuncion said at a hearing in federal court in Washington. Three other former Blackwater security guards face manslaughter charges in connection with the September 16, 2007 shootings at Nisur Square in Baghdad, in which 17 civilians were killed and more than a dozen others wounded.
By Dan Whitcomb LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Two ex-Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies accused of planting guns at a marijuana dispensary to justify an arrest have been charged with conspiracy and perjury, prosecutors said on Wednesday. The charges mark the latest blow to a sheriff's department that has been beset with allegations of civil rights violations and corruption as well as a federal investigation of its jails. Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca retired earlier this year rather than seek re-election. Prosecutors say former deputy Julio Cesar Martinez, 39, claimed in a report that he spotted a man make a drug deal in August 2011 while reaching for a gun in the front pocket of his shorts.
By Hilary Russ NEW YORK (Reuters) - The board of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey on Wednesday delayed a scheduled vote on whether to provide $1.2 billion in loan guarantees to World Trade Center developer Larry Silverstein, the latest holdup for the project. The request from Silverstein, who needs Port Authority backing to secure a construction loan for 3 World Trade Center, the complex's next skyscraper, recently became entangled in a debate over the agency's mission after the "Bridgegate" scandal rocked New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's administration. Wednesday's delay came after the Port Authority's chief of staff told the board he had not yet brokered a good enough deal to recommend approval. The loan guarantee is meant to be part of an agreement that would provide hundreds of millions of dollars more to the Port Authority and allow it to foreclose on the $2.4 billion tower if Silverstein cannot pay debt service costs.