Council to urge clemency for convicted smuggler
December 5, 2018
ISLAMORADA — “The injustice screams,” Islamorada Village Council member Ken Davis said of his appeal to release imprisoned Richard “Dickie” Lynn.
Davis, a retired U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent and newest member of the Islamorada governing board, succeeded in persuading a council majority last Thursday to support Lynn’s release after 30 years in federal custody on cocaine-smuggling convictions.
“I was trying to catch Dickie Lynn. Now I get phone calls from him,” Davis said. “We want our resident back and we’ll take care of him.”
Three other council members agreed to send a formal request to court authorities urging clemency for Lynn, now serving a life sentence in a Sumter County federal prison west of Orlando.
Councilwoman Cheryl Meads declined to make the vote unanimous.
“I can’t support it because of the amount of cocaine, and recidivism,” she said. “I have known people who have ruined their lives because of their addictions. … I think of the children.”
Davis said Lynn’s operation to fly 3,960 pounds of cocaine into Alabama was not part of the era’s drug violence.
“Nobody got beat up, nobody got killed, no one was threatened with a gun,” he said. “Murderers, rapists and child molesters can walk free after 10 or 15 years, and this is not him.”
Lynn escaped custody after his first arrest and was recaptured several months later, while planning a new smuggling venture. He then cooperated with authorities but prosecutors in the South Alabama federal court district insisted on keeping the sentence in place because of the escape, Davis said.
“It was ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High’ back then,” Councilman Jim Mooney said. “You know all the players. He was given seven life sentences and Dickie is not a violent person. I have zero inkling he would ever get a ticket for so much as jaywalking.”
In public comment, Angel Borden, a longtime Lynn friend who visited him in prison, told the council, “Wrong is wrong, and how he was treated by the court system is wrong.”
Van Cadenhead described knowing Lynn as a youth.
“He just got caught up [in Florida Keys smuggling], the gold watches and fast cars,” Cadenhead said. “He’s more than served his time and he’s a really nice guy.”
“I don’t see this as a village issue per se,” said Vice Mayor Mike Forster. “That being said, he is from here and if we can help, I’ll go along and support it.”
Mayor Deb Gillis said the council “can step up to the plate and write a letter. We’re the head organization here.”
Islamorada staff was instructed to draft a letter to federal officials, requesting a reduced sentence.
Davis described Lynn as being in poor health.
“He’s 64 years old and after 30 years in prison, nobody is in good health,” he said.