The Cesar Odio Sentence Reduction Plan

Cesar Odio's 83-year-old mother is dying of cancer. Lawyers for the incarcerated former Miami city manager, arguing "humanitarian need," say that he should be released from jail early in order to visit her.

"The defendant's mother, Sarah Odio ... is currently suffering from a carcinoma (cancer) and has an invasive malignancy," wrote Odio attorney Donald Bierman in a pleading filed March 9. "Her physician has predicted she will have a short survival time."

Bierman attached a copy of a letter from that physician, Simon Rozen of the Miami Heart Institute. Besides confirming the cancer diagnosis, Rozen joined the plea to spring the former manager: "I am writing ... on Sarah Odio's behalf so that her son, Cesar, will be able to visit her as soon as possible."

This is the second time in four months that Odio's attorneys have tried to reduce his jail time. More precisely, they are actually asking U.S. District Court Judge K. Michael Moore to lengthen Odio's one-year sentence by a single day. If allowed, the unusual move would make Odio eligible for gain time that would shorten his incarceration by 47 days, Bierman claims.

Odio's confinement -- in a federal prison camp at Eglin Air Force Base in northwest Florida -- stems from the political corruption probe Operation Greenpalm. In late 1996 the former city manager was charged with multiple counts of conspiring to receive a kickback on a city insurance contract. If he'd been convicted on all counts, he could have been imprisoned for up to ten years. He avoided that by pleading guilty to a single count of obstruction of justice. Prosecutors asked for a sentence of sixteen months. Judge Moore settled on twelve.

Moore has shown no interest in shortening the jail time. He still has not ruled on the first request -- filed last November -- to increase Odio's sentence by a day. Federal prosecutors prefer that he ignore this one, too. "Certainly the health crisis of a member of the Odio family is unfortunate," wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Butler in a response filed last week. "Such family tragedies and crises frequently befall defendants during periods of incarceration. However ... the United States cannot agree that justice will be served by further reducing Mr. Odio's sentence in view of the seriousness of his crime."

Butler argued that the only basis for a possible reduction in sentence would be Odio's "substantial assistance in the investigation or prosecution of another person." Odio, however, has not yet cooperated, Butler wrote. (Bierman could not be reached for comment.)

Sarah Odio, matriarch of the Odio family, is the mother of ten children. She spent six years in the Sixties in a Cuban women's prison for her political activities. Part of her sentence was served in her own home, which had been converted to a jail by Fidel Castro. Since arriving in Miami in 1967, she has held a revered position in the exile community. She also had clout, at least during the nearly eleven years her son served as city manager. High-ranking city officials report that she often called to monitor their work or to lobby for a program her son wanted to implement.

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