Hodge had been sentenced to life in prison

A 57-year-old Havelock man serving a life sentence on cocaine charges was among 273 convicts whose sentences were commuted by President Obama on Tuesday.

Wesley Hodge was indicted Oct. 23, 1996, on conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base in the Eastern District of North Carolina, according to Don Connelly, public information of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Raleigh.

Hodge was convicted March 24, 1997, and sentenced to life in prison on July 28, 1997, by Judge Terrence Boyle, Connelly said.

President Obama commuted Hodge’s life sentence to a term of 360 months, or 30 years imprisonment, with the condition that Hodge had to enroll in a residential drug treatment program upon release, according to the president’s press office.

Hodge has already served 20 years in prison. He is currently being held in Beaumont U.S. Penitentiary in Beaumont, Texas, Connelly said.

Beulah Harkley, Hodge’s aunt, said she heard the news Wednesday night from family members.

“It meant a lot,” she said Thursday. “He has been away for a long time. ... It’s great news.”

Hodge lived beside Harkley on Adams Creek Road before he was incarcerated.

When Hodge’s commutation was announced Tuesday, he was one of 273 individuals given a second chance by the president through 209 commutations and 64 pardons, according to a news release from Neil Eggleston, counsel to the president.

“These 273 individuals learned that our nation is a forgiving nation, where hard work and a commitment to rehabilitation can lead to a second chance, and where wrongs from the past will not deprive an individual of the opportunity to move forward,” Eggleston said.

Obama has granted more clemencies than any president in history, 1,597 before this week’s pardons and commutations, Eggleston said.