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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- New sentencing hearings have been ordered for a couple involved in the theft of a sealed document from federal court, which was used to tip off drugs dealers to an undercover police operation.
The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling could lead to an immediate end of punishment for Shari Lewis Lang and Johnny Lang.
"It's good news," said Shari Lang's attorney, Kenneth Brown. "With any luck, she shouldn't have to go back (to prison)."
She was released from prison last year and allowed to remain free pending the 10th Circuit decision. Johnny Lang is still in custody.
"It's fortunate that he gets another shot at it," said Stephen McCaughey, Johnny Lang's attorney.
The Langs were convicted in January 2002 of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and accessory after the fact.
Shari Lang also was convicted of removing records from the federal courthouse. She had worked there just eight days when she smuggled out a copy of sealed affidavit that outlined a Drug Enforcement Administration investigation of an alleged heroin dealer.
Her husband, who also was convicted of making false statements to police, called the individuals who were named in the document. Federal investigators intercepted a call and the Centerville couple was arrested the following day.
U.S. Judge Tena Campbell initially sentenced both Langs to 46 months in prison, well below the federal sentencing guidelines.
Campbell lowered the level of the offense against the two because they were first time offenders and said they didn't realize the magnitude of the crimes.
Prosecutors condemned the lower sentencing and said that had the phone calls made by Johnny Lang to the suspects not been intercepted the lives of undercover agents could have been endangered.
The 10th Circuit last year ordered the pair, now divorced, to be resentenced. Campbell then imposed a 97-month term on Shari Lang, who was in a halfway house and a week from going home, and a 6 1/2-year term on Johnny Lang.
The two appealed. On Tuesday, the 10th Circuit granted new sentencings based on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier this year that made sentencing guidelines advisory rather than mandatory.
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)