Success: Ex meth-dealer earns early parole release

McClatchy Washington BureauNovember 22, 2013 

Here's a criminal justice success story, involving an ex-felon who's cleaned up his act and a judge who's willing to cut him some slack.

Van Etheridge bought, sold and transported "wholesale quantities of methamphetamine as part of a large-scale drug conspiracy," in the words of U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan. Etheridge's illegal actions between 2001 and 2005 came to an end when law enforcement crashed the party.

Once released from prison, Etheridge faced a five-year probation term. He's served four years of that so far, and according to all accounts he's done well. He's been drug-free for six years, completed treatment, taken up exercise, reconciled with his adult daughters and, Hogan noted, "meritoriously held the same job for more than five years."

"Mr. Etheridge's probation officer confirmed that Mr. Etheridge's recovery was remarkable," Hogan wrote. "Mr. Etheridge has never had a positive drug test or failed to check in as required, an accomplishment his probation officer described as extremely rare."

Problem is, Etheridge needs to travel for his job, potentially overseas. On probation, that poses potential issues. So Etheridge petitioned for early release from parole, a bid opposed by the Justice Department. Washington, D.C.-based attorney H. Heather Shaner represented Etheridge.

Hogan, after enumerating Etheridge's "exceptionally good behavior," sided with him and granted the early release from probation.

"Mr. Etheridge's post-conviction conduct demonstrates that he has changed his behavior so significantly that additional unnecessary," Hogan stated.





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