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Ex-clerk may face a return to prison

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A former federal court clerk who has been in a Salt Lake City halfway house preparing for her release could return to prison instead.

An appeals court ruled Wednesday that Shari Lewis Lang had been given too short a sentence for her role in tipping off a heroin ring to a federal investigation.

Lang was sentenced two years ago to 46 months in prison for removing a courthouse copy of a confidential document detailing an undercover investigation into a Salt Lake drug trafficking organization. Using information from the document, her husband, Johnny Lang, telephoned leaders of the heroin ring and tipped them off to the ongoing federal probe.

Shari Lang, 42, served most of her sentence in a federal facility in Dublin, Calif. She received time off for completing a drug-treatment program and was transferred to Utah in early February to complete a six-month stint at the halfway house prior to her expected release in July, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

She now faces another four to six years behind bars in light of the recent ruling from the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The court determined U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell improperly reduced her sentence by that amount of time.

She originally faced between eight and 10 years in prison, but at her April 2002 sentencing Campbell departed from federal sentencing guidelines to reach the nearly four-year term.

The judge found that Shari Lang's involvement as an accessory was brief, and that her behavior was aberrant given her education and employment history.

In June 2002, Campbell sentenced Johnny Lang to the same amount of time as his wife. Both sentences were then appealed by prosecutors, who believed they were too short.