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Jailed from the time of his arrest in 1990, Gill earned a legal education inside prison libraries and successfully petitioned the then-president for a second chance after his court appeals were exhausted.
He was taken to federal court Friday, and U.S. Magistrate Judge Henry Bemporad ordered him held without bond pending a bail hearing on Feb. 16. Gill is charged with possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine.
He again faces a potential sentence with a mandatory minimum, five years, and could get up to 40.
Gill was one of about 1,700 federal inmates whose sentences Obama commuted as part of a broader campaign to give relief to nonviolent offenders serving long prison terms that dated to a frenzied period in the nation’s war on drugs.
Obama wrote in a signed notification that he granted Gill’s application “because you have demonstrated the potential to turn your life around. … Now it is up to you to make the most of this opportunity.”
In interviews last year, Gill said he sustained hope even as his three co-defendants died behind bars.
“I believed there were people in government with rational minds who sooner or later would realize that the sentence wasn’t fair,” Gill said last year. “Yes, you have the thought that you’re going to die in prison — that’s a human reaction. But there’s always the possibility that they’ll acknowledge the injustice.”
Gill was employed as a paralegal for local criminal defense law firm LaHood & Calfas.

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