Merry Christmas! Bush hands out holiday pardons

President Bush gave a pre-Christmas gift to 17 minor criminals, but even after adding these pardons and one sentence commutation to his record he remains one of the stingiest presidents for such federal forgiveness.

Six of the federal offenses involved in the 16 pardons and one commutation issued Thursday were drug crimes, while others included bank fraud, mail fraud, the acceptance of a kickback, a false statement on a loan application and conspiracy to defraud the government over taxes.

Seven of the 17 weren’t even sent to prison or jail, getting probation, small fines or other penalties instead. The longest sentence was nine years, for aiding cocaine distribution, followed by a six-year term for conspiracy to possess marijuana.

With this batch, Bush has issued 113 pardons and commuted three sentences in his nearly six years in the White House, according to spokesman Tony Fratto.

Since World War II, the largest number of pardon and commutations — 2,031 — came from President Truman, who served 82 days short of eight years. Other recent presidents issued hundreds each, though Bush’s father, George H. W. Bush, handed out only 77 pardons and commutations in four years in office.

A pardon amounts to federal forgiveness for one’s crime, while a commutation merely cuts short an existing prison term.

The list did not include former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, charged in the CIA leak case with perjury and obstruction. Libby, whose trial is scheduled to begin in January, is accused of lying to investigators about his conversations with reporters about Valerie Plame, a CIA operative and wife of an Iraq war critic.

On the pardons list were:

  • Charles James Allen of Winchester, Va., conspiracy to defraud the United States. A former federal employee, Allen was convicted in 1979 for approving payments to James Hilles Associates Inc., a Virginia firm, for office supplies that were never delivered. In return, Allen received car parts, a radio, a freezer and other gifts from the firm. He was sentenced to a year of custody to be served by 30 days in jail, 90 days in a work-release program, and the remaining period on parole.
  • William Sidney Baldwin Sr. of Green Pond, S.C., conspiracy to possess marijuana. Sentenced Oct. 27, 1981, to six years’ imprisonment.
  • Timothy Evans Barfield of Cary, N.C., aiding and abetting false statements on a Small Business Administration loan application. Sentenced July 17, 1989, to three years’ probation, including 96 hours of community service.
  • Clyde Philip Boudreaux of Thibodaux, La., borrowing money from enlisted men, accepting a noninterest-bearing loan from a government contractor and signing and swearing to a false affidavit. Sentenced Dec. 2, 1975, to a Navy reprimand, loss of numbers on the promotion list and a $1,000 fine.
  • Marie Georgette Ginette Briere of Gatineau, Quebec, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. Sentenced July 9, 1982, to three years’ imprisonment and three years’ special parole.
  • Dale C. Critz, Jr., Savannah, Ga., making a false statement. Sentenced July 13, 1989, to three years’ probation.
  • Mark Alan Eberwine of San Antonio, conspiracy to defraud the United States by impeding, impairing, and obstructing the assessment of taxes by the Internal Revenue Service and making false declarations to the grand jury. Sentenced Feb. 1, 1985, as amended April 23, 1986, to two years’ imprisonment.
  • Colin Earl Francis of Naugatuck, Conn., accepting a kickback of about $9,000 for helping a vendor for United Technologies Corp.’s Sikorsky Aircraft division, where Francis worked at the time, land a contract. Sentenced May 7, 1993, to two years’ probation and a $2,500 fine.
  • George Thomas Harley of Albuquerque, N.M., aiding and abetting the distribution of cocaine. Sentenced Nov. 30, 1984, to nine years’ imprisonment and five years’ special parole.
  • Patricia Ann Hultman, of Kane, Pa., conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute cocaine and other controlled substances. Sentenced Oct. 28, 1985, to one year of imprisonment.
  • Eric William Olson of Ojai, Calif., conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, possession with intent to distribute, possession, and use of hashish. Sentenced Feb. 21, 1984, by an Army general court-martial to confinement at hard labor for one year, reduction in pay grade, forfeiture of all pay and allowances and a bad conduct discharge.
  • Thomas R. Reece of Cumming, Ga., violating the Internal Revenue Code pertaining to alcohol. Sentenced May 2, 1969, to one year of imprisonment.
  • Larry Gene Ross of Indio, Calif., making false statements in a bank loan application. Sentenced Aug. 15, 1989, to four years’ probation and $7,654.20 in restitution.
  • Jearld David Swanner of Lexington, Okla., making false statements in a bank loan application. Sentenced Dec. 6, 1991, to three years’ probation.
  • James Walter Taylor of McCrory, Ark., bank fraud. Sentenced Oct. 18, 1991, to 90 days in jail, followed by two years and nine months’ probation.
  • Janet Theone Upton of Salinas, Calif., mail fraud. Sentenced May 23, 1975, to two years’ unsupervised probation.

Bush also granted a commutation of sentence to Phillip Anthony Emmert of Washington, Iowa, whose case involved conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.

He was sentenced Dec. 23, 1992, to 262 months’ imprisonment (reduced on Feb. 21, 1996) and five years’ supervised release. Bush directed that Emmert’s sentence expire on this coming Jan. 20, but left the supervised release intact.

"Requests for executive clemency receive intense individualized consideration based upon an established set of objective criteria," spokesman Fratto said.

He said that most weight is given to the seriousness of the crime, how long ago it was committed, acceptance of responsibility and remorse, an applicant’s conduct and contribution to society, and recommendations from the sentencing judge, probation officer and prosecutor.


On the Net:

Justice Department Pardon Attorney

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press