Dealer who posed with bigwigs gets 7½ years

Man who sold crack had been offered work release, but preferred to go to trial

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SEATTLE — A convicted crack dealer who tried to win a reduced sentence, in part, by submitting photos of himself posing with a slew of city and county officials — including the mayor, police chief and city attorney — was sentenced Friday to 7½ years in prison.

The judge did not specifically address the photographs submitted by Ali Abukar Mohamed, 30, while meting out his prison term, but instead spoke to his crimes.

King County Superior Court Judge Regina Cahan told Mohamed in a courtroom packed with his supporters that it was commendable that he'd been active in his community.

But, she said, "you are also a convicted drug dealer, and your community needs to acknowledge that."

Mohamed was charged with five counts of selling crack cocaine.

The first-time offender was offered a plea deal with a sentence of 30 to 90 days in work release, but he turned it down and went to trial.

Last month, he was convicted of four counts of violating the uniform controlled-substances act by a King County jury, which also found that three of the sales occurred within a block of an elementary school.

Because each school-zone enhancement carries a mandatory 24-month sentence, the judge said she had no choice but to sentence Mohamed to at least 72 months.

He was additionally sentenced on four counts of violating the controlled-substances act.

A supporter of Mohamed's, Bill Anderson, said his friend was genuinely shocked to receive a prison term.

In a memorandum filed with the court before the hearing on Friday, Mohamed asked the court to impose a sentence well below the standard range. In support, he submitted nine reference letters from the leaders of local charities and community organizations, and the names and signatures of more than 200 supporters.

He also included more than a dozen photos taken of him with Seattle city officials, county officials, police officers and members of the community, including Mayor Ed Murray, new Police Chief Kathleen O'Toole, City Attorney Pete Holmes and King County Councilmember Larry Gossett.

Most, if not all, were taken since his conviction, according to Deputy Prosecutor Charles Sherer, who also read statements from Gossett and one of the officers photographed who objected to the use of their images in Mohamed's court documents.