Scott Earle

Scott EarleA first-time offender, Scott received a 25-year prison sentence for acting as a middleman between a painkiller supplier and an undercover police officer who told Scott she was experiencing back pain.

Scott began using painkillers after a sports injury when he was a teenager. After being in several car accidents, his dependence on the medication grew until he was taking over a dozen pills each day. Despite his addiction, Scott held full-time employment at an auto dealership and worked as a musician on the side.   

In September of 1995, Scott was admitted to the emergency room for a painful diverticulitis attack. The doctor prescribed him Vicodin. Several days later, Scott’s roommate introduced him to a beautiful woman at a neighborhood bar. After getting drinks with Scott and learning of his recent hospital visit, the woman asked him if she could have some of his pills for her back pain.  He agreed and gave her some of his own pills.  Unbeknownst to Scott, the woman was an undercover police officer. Soon, she began calling Scott at home and at work, asking if he could get more pain medication for her. Scott’s legal prescription had run out so he contacted a friend who knew someone that could supply the woman with painkillers. The officer started out by purchasing small amounts of pills and then began requesting over 100 at a time. Scott, who had developed strong feelings for his new “friend,” would meet her at the neighborhood bar, where she would pick up her pills from the supplier. Afterwards, she and Scott would drink and talk for hours. Scott acted as a middleman who connected the officer to a man selling pain medicine. He did not benefit monetarily from the transactions. Three months after meeting the woman at the bar, Scott was arrested for felony drug trafficking and conspiracy. 

Scott pled guilty and received four 25-year mandatory minimum sentences, along with two 15-year sentences, all sentences to run concurrently, for a total of 25 years. Sentencing Judge Speiser was appalled at the sentence he was forced to impose on a first-time nonviolent offender: 

I have to express my deep concern about this particular situation…this punishment does not fit the crime. We are not talking about a first or second degree murder…with a great degree of reluctance I will have to sentence the defendant [to] 25 years minimum mandatory.    

Though the District Court of Appeals found one of Scott’s 15-year sentences to be illegal, he still must serve the 25-year mandatory minimum. The man that supplied the painkillers to the officer served only five years on probation due to his subsequent cooperation with the police. 
While incarcerated, Scott has completed college courses, as well as vocational training. He regularly participates in Bible study and is a chapel clerk. Along with working as a certified law clerk for over a decade, Scott is an accomplished guitarist. Addicted to pain pills for a decade and a half, Scott has now been sober for over 12 years. He has had no disciplinary infractions during his incarceration. Unfortunately, both of Scott’s brothers have passed away. Scott’s elderly parents are ill and live many miles away in Massachusetts. Before Mothers Day 2009, Scott’s mother Janet had not seen him in nine years. Janet writes, “Please help my son [who has served] 11 years for 320 pills…Time may be running out for his father who is 83 and myself at 75.”

Read news articles examining the injustice of Scott’s sentence here and here.

The Facts: Scott Earle
Sentence: 25 years
Offense: Conspiracy to traffic and trafficking in oxycodone; delivery of hydrocodone; delivery of flunitrazepam
Priors: None
Year sentenced: 1998
Age at sentencing: 37
Projected release date: Oct. 20, 2019