The 56-year-old Musa had received a mandatory life sentence thirty years ago for a nonviolent drug offence, part of a sting operation over buying drugs. It was a sentence that the presiding judge stated was unfair, but that was the law. Repeated appeals to get it reassessed had failed. President Obama had previously declined to pardon Musa.
It was all due to Ike Perlmutter's relationship with lawyer Josh Dubin, who had represented Perlmutter in his legal battle with fellow billionaire Harold Perelboom over who ran the local tennis court. The battle had seen allegations of DNA theft, false-flag hate mail and FBI seizures of mail from Canada. Perlmutter had told Dubin, "find someone worthy of clemency, and I'll make it happen." And he did.
Ike Perlmutter told The Baltimore Sun, "I don't talk to journalists," but summarised a familiar history "I'm the American Dream. I never graduated college, never had the opportunity to go. We never had money to buy food. I came here with $250, and the rest is history."
Musa studied law in prison and wrote legal memos for himself and other prisoners. He received support from the likes of Kenneth Wainstein, former assistant attorney general for national security and Homeland Security adviser.
Josh Dubin, who represented Ike Perlmutter and Laura Perlmutter, was also involved with the Innocence Project, known for its exoneration of prisoners.
"He changed our entire case overnight. He's the kind of guy who has the question, the answer, and the solution at the same time. He's very sincere. We fell in love with him… I was fighting for close to eight years — and still fighting — and I said to myself, 'Thank God I have money, and my wife has money' " as, without resources, there would've been "no way to fight, no way to do anything."
After following his work with those who were wrongly accused, Ike Perlmutter donated more than $500,000 to the Innocence Project in Dubin's name. The Perlmutters have also donated millions to cancer care, transgender surgical research, genetic disease research and donated many millions to Trump's election campaign and related political causes. Laura was on Trump's Inaugural Committee, Ike was appointed to work at Veteran's Affairs, and they dined with Trump rather than Trump's own family for Thanksgiving at Mar-A-Lago. Ike told the Baltimore Sun that Trump's loss in November "crushed him".
But before Trump left office, Ike Perlmutter proposed to Dubin that he directly ask Trump for clemency for a deserving cause, stating that "I never asked him for anything before" and worked on choosing a case that Trump would go along with.
Dubin met Ike Perlmutter at Mar-A-Lago after Christmas when Trump was there for the last time as President. When Trump arrived, The Baltimore Sun reports that the left-wing Dubin asked Perlmutter, "Do I have to stand and clap?" to be told, "Do you want your pardon?" Perlmutter advised that Dubin wait to talk to Trump until he was eating his ice cream. He did so. Dubin also stated that he would offer Musa a job with his own legal firm, performing legal analysis. And that Trump replied, "Ike stands behind this case, and I trust Ike. And if Ike and Laurie trust you, this is something I'm inclined to do", while Melania Trump stated, "Thank you for bringing this to our attention".
Events took over, but Ike Perlmutter told Dubin not to worry. "He's a man of his word. He's loyal." Loyal to billionaires, maybe. Meanwhile, Musa and his cellmate were in COVID lockdown quarantine without their belongings. Musa's mother had caught coronavirus and was on a ventilator at the University of Maryland Medical Center. But on Sunday, January 17th, Trump called Perlmutter to say that Musa's sentence had been commuted. Dubin says that Perlmutter ".started to cry. His wife started to cry. He said, 'This is only the beginning.'"
Musa was then freed on Wednesday, the 20th of January. He and his family have started a GoFundMe campaign to help get his life back in order and take care of his mother, who survived the initial bout of COVID. Donors have included Marvel Entertainment Executive Vice President, Office of the Chief Executive, John Turitzin.