Federal Presidential Pardon

A Study of Noteworthy Presidential Pardons

Peter Yarrow

Posted on | November 29, 2009 | 4 Comments

Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary, and singer and songwriter of Puff the Magic Dragon, had an indiscretion with a 14 year old groupie. He served three months in jail. Carter pardoned him.

This pardon is noteworthy because Yarrow is an unmatched philanthropist. Yarrow has donated countless hours, ideas and his own money to various charities around the world. He started a program to educate young people not just on academics but how to act in society.

Often, potential clients ask us about their “chances” at getting a federal presidential pardon, and I often question them on their charitable givings of time and money because, I believe that these activities truly increase your chances for pardon consideration. Obviously, sex crimes are difficult cases, let alone pardons, but make no mistake that Yarrow’s charitable acts had an effect on his pardon.


Moving by Peter, Paul and Mary.

Marc Rich

Posted on | November 28, 2009 | 1 Comment

Marc Rich was an oil commodities trader who made his money in the 1970s and early 1980s. In the 1980s he allegedly traded with Iran while Iran still had American hostages. In 1983, he was indicted by Untied States Attorney and future New York City mayor, Rudolph Giuliani for tax fraud under RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act).

Rich fled to Switzerland. Subsequent to his flight, the United States Attorneys office stopped prosecuting tax cases based on a RICO theory and instead pursued the claims through civil remedies. Rich’s ex-wife made contributions to Bill Clinton’s presidential library. Rich made substantial contributions to Israeli charities.

Many pundits criticized Clinton saying this was a pardon for pay. Clinton responded that he consulted with tax professors Martin Ginsburg of Georgetown University Law Center and Bernard Wolfman of the Harvard Law School and concluded that Rich did not have a criminal intent in his actions (i.e. no mens rea).

The irony is that Rich’s lawyer was I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby. We might have to give Scooter his own site. Guess the squeaky wheel does get the grease?

Marc Rich

Marc Rich

Marcus Garvey

Posted on | November 25, 2009 | No Comments

Marcus Garvey was an African Fundamentalist. He believed that all European nations and the Untied States should stay out of the affairs of Africa. He was a contemporaries with such luminaries as Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois. He was not well liked by many people. He believed that African Americans were placed at a social disadvantage by white society and sought change.

The United States government trumped-up mail fraud charges against Garvey. He was convicted and exhausted all possible appeals. On February 8, 1925, he began serving a five year federal sentence in Atlanta. He began writing a book, and from that book we have his most famous quotation:

“Look for me in the whirlwind or the storm, look for me all around you, for, with God’s grace, I shall come and bring with me countless millions of black slaves who have died in America and the West Indies and the millions in Africa to aid you in the fight for Liberty, Freedom and Life.”

Coolidge commuted his sentence in November of 1927 and had him deported to Jamaica. If Coolidge could pardon this fellow in 1927, why hasn’t Obama made his move on Jack Johnson? Its 2009, right?

Marcus Garvey

Marcus Garvey, author of, "First Message to the Negroes of the World From Atlanta Prison"


Posted on | November 24, 2009 | No Comments


John Edward Forte

Posted on | November 23, 2009 | No Comments

John Edward Forte is a grammy winning music producer who was caught at the airport with $1.4 million of liquid cocaine in a briefcase. He was convicted and sentenced to fourteen years. Forte has never accepted responsibility for the cocaine.

What makes this pardon odd, is that it does not fit the paradigm of George W. Bush’s pardons and commutations. Simply, W. didn’t pardon many folks at all. Why he pardoned Forte is somewhat mysterious. Bush did not grant a full pardon to Libby, or pardon Marion Jones, Michael Vick, or grant amnesty to any of the folks involved in the water-boarding scandal. Blows me away.

John Edward Forte

John Edward Forte

W. Mark Felt and Edward S. Miller

Posted on | November 21, 2009 | No Comments

W. Mark Felt and Edward S. Miller were FBI agents convicted of crimes related to their roles in civil rights violations they committed through their top jobs with the feds. These g-men purportedly abused their power. A closer look at the convictions reveals that these cases are not so simple and perhaps explains the rationale for the pardon.

In 2005, W. Mark Felt revealed that he was “Deep Throat,” the informant that lead to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s breaking the Watergate scandal. He was the original whistleblower. I digress.

Felt was the second highest ranking FBI agent during most of the Nixon presidency. He believed that our government should police and take proactive steps in preventing bombings by fundamentalist political organizations. He ordered searches of the homes of members of the Weather Underground Organization, to prevent said bombings. He did this without probable cause and without warrants. He was convicted of this offense, but was then pardoned by Reagan during his appeal.

Edward S. Miller, not as notorious as Felt, was the head of the division of the FBI that ran the illegal searches of the homes of people suspected to be part of radical groups in the United States. He referred to these searches as “black-bag  jobs.” He ran the jobs associated with the Weather Underground illegal searches.

Once the Vietnam War had ended, so did the Weather Underground. Carter granted amnesty.

The break-in boys got off. Felt and Miller were tried and convicted together. Reagan pardoned both men. The break-in boys got off.

Weather Underground

From the Weather Underground FBI Wanted Poster, circa 1970.

Jose Compean & Ignacio Ramos

Posted on | November 19, 2009 | No Comments

Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos were United States Boarder Patrol Agents shot an unarmed illegal alien marijuana smuggler. The suspect was attempting to cross the border with a purported 743 pounds of weed, when Compean told the suspect to stop and the suspect refused to obey. Compean mistakenly thought that he heard gun shot, so Compean fired his gun at the suspect. Ramos, hearing Compean’s fire, thought the suspect had shot at Compean and shot at the suspect and hit him in the ass. The suspect fled with the bullet in his backside.

Compean and Ramos were both convicted in federal court and given huge sentences for shooting this unarmed brigand. Over 200,000 people signed a petition for a pardon, and on his last day in office George W. Bush, commuted the sentences. Think the Santa Maria had 743 pounds of weed on it in 1492?


Was there any tobacco or marijuana on the Santa Maria in 1492?

Oscar Collazo

Posted on | November 14, 2009 | No Comments

Oscar Collazo was a leader in the Puerto Rican independence movement. He was the President of the Nationalist Party of New York.

In October 1950, a Puerto Rican independence attempt, called the Jayuya Uprising was quelled and Puerto Rico remained a possession of the United States. Shortly thereafter, Collazo and another man attempted to assassinate President Harry S. Truman. Collazo was arrested, tried, found guilty, sentenced to death and incarecerated.

Oddly, Truman was not against Puerto Rican independence. When confronted on why Truman would be the target of of the Nationalist movement, Collazo said that it was a signal to the world of Puerto Rico’s fight for independence.

Truman commuted the death sentence to life. Collazo was eligible for parole in 1966, but never acknowledged the conviction and thereby never applied for parole. In 1979, Carter commuted the sentence.

Puerto Rican Independence

Puerto Rican Independence

Leslie Owen Collier – Bald Eagle Killer

Posted on | November 12, 2009 | No Comments

In 1995 Leslie Owen Collier was a turkey farmer in Missouri. Collier was upset that coyotes were invading his turkey farm and eating his turkeys. He decided that a good way to kill the coyotes was with poison. He chose an illegal poison called Furadan. Collier mixed the Furadan with ground beef so he could kill the coyotes.

Other creatures from nature also feasted on the meat. By the time Collier was done he picked off a red-tailed hawk, a raccoon, seven coyotes, a great horned owl, and three bald eagles. He was convicted of a felony for killing the bald eagles. As a result of the conviction, he could no longer own a gun.

He went through the process of getting a pardon so he could restore his rights of citizenship. In November 2008, George W. Bush pardoned Collier. Note that since the early 1970s, Bush pardoned the fewest people per term of any President. Odd that he would pardon this guy. Guess Collier never got charged with illegal possession of Furadan.

American Bald Eagle

Leslie Owen Collier killed three American Bald Eagles with the illegal poison Furadan.

Eugene V. Debs

Posted on | November 12, 2009 | No Comments

Eugene V. Debs was the first great Union leader in the United States. He helped to start many of the international labor unions still existing today. He was the Socialist Democrat candidate for President of the United States in 1900.  He was greatly influenced by Karl Marx and one of the most influential socialists of the time.

The Espionage Act of 1917 outlawed public speaking against the United States involvement in World War I. Debs felt that the United States was involved int he war only for capitalist reasons. When he spoke in public he crafted his words to ensure that he didn’t violate the Espionage Act of 1917. He failed. He was eventually convicted of violating the Act; See Debs v. United States, 249 U.S. 211 (1919). The unionists, socialists, anarchists, and communists supported him and marched for his freedom.

While in prison in 1920, he ran for president and received 3.4% of the popular vote. His health declined rapidly in prison and the attorney general ask President Wilson to pardon Debs. Denied. Once Harding became president, he pardoned Debs.

In 2008, Ralph Nader got 0.56% of the popular vote.

Debs believed that the government should provide basic human needs for all of the citizens in the United States and that the government should control policies like health care and retirement. He also believed that the United States should not be involved in wars that we have no business being in. Sound familiar? Obama?

Eugene Debs

Eugene Debs got 3.4% of the popular vote in the 1920 election for President of the United States while incarcerated.

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