81-year-old Brooklyn man in wheelchair released under new Rockefeller drug law

NEW YORK (AP) _ An 81-year-old Brooklyn man who's in poor health was re-sentenced Thursday under the revision of the state's Rockefeller drug laws and will be freed from prison after serving more than nine years behind bars.

Saul Sultan was re-sentenced in Brooklyn's state Supreme Court to nine years in prison, less time than he's already served. His original sentence, handed down in 1995, was for 15 years to life after he was convicted of drug possession.  He should be released within the next several days after administrative work is completed, said Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney Anne Swern, who prosecuted the case.

"He's paid his debt," Swern said.

Sultan's family was eagerly awaiting his homecoming.

"We're ecstatic," said his daughter, Sandra Caldarella. "It's just a matter of having him home, and when we do we'll be able to put this behind us and move on."

Caldarella said she was shocked to see how badly her father's health had deteriorated during his prison term.
Sultan, who began using a wheelchair during his prison stay, was convicted of drug possession in 1995 after police found more than 6 ounces of cocaine, drug paraphernalia and $8,000 in cash at his house, Swern said. He served his time in several facilities upstate.

Sultan's lawyer, Margaret Ratner-Kunstler, said Thursday's ruling was a huge relief.

"It's really good to get people out of jail," she said. "It's the best thing a lawyer can do."

Gov. George Pataki last year signed legislation scaling back mandatory sentencing guidelines for drug offenses. The reform applies to laws passed in 1973 and 1974 under former Gov. Nelson Rockefeller.