Two Kankakee County men previously sentenced by U.S. District Judge Colin Bruce were re-sentenced in federal court after the judge was recently reprimanded.
On Sept. 8, U.S. District Judge Sarah Darrow re-sentenced James Atwood, 35, of Bourbonnais, to 13 years in federal prison and a term of five years of supervised release to follow.
Atwood had initially been sentenced to nearly 18 years in federal prison.
In July 2018, Atwood pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine, distribution of cocaine and use of a communication facility to facilitate a drug transaction.
The U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in late 2019 ruled that Atwood needed to be re-sentenced on his federal drug charges and in front of a different judge.
Judge Bruce was reprimanded for improperly communicating with former colleagues in the U.S. Attorney’s Central Illinois District office. Bruce had been a prosecutor for 24 years before becoming a federal judge in 2013. The court determined Bruce broke rules in place ensuring impartiality, but no real harm had been done.
Brandon Shoffner, 32, of Kankakee, was previously sentenced on July 24, 2017, by Judge Bruce to seven years in federal prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. Shoffner’s original sentence was vacated due to questions concerning if there had been a miscalculation on the base offense level. The matter was reviewed and he was re-sentenced on Aug. 28 by U.S. District Judge James Shadid at the same level.
On Feb. 24, 2017, Shoffner pleaded guilty to the charges of possession of a SAR Arms 9-mm handgun. At the time of Shoffner’s gun possession in August 2016, he had prior felony convictions in Kankakee County.
Atwood already had been convicted twice of drug charges in Kankakee County.
The charges against both men were a result of investigations by Kankakee Area Project Safe Neighborhoods Task Force related to gun violence in the Kankakee area.