President Issues 16 Pardons

President Bush
President Bush issued 16 pardons to minor criminals on Thursday and commuted the sentence of an Iowa man serving time for a drug conviction.

Six of the federal offenses 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 16 received no prison or jail time, instead getting probation or small fines. The longest sentence was nine years, for aiding cocaine distribution, followed by a six-year term for conspiracy to possess marijuana.

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

A pardon amounts to federal forgiveness for one's crime, while a commutation 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 regarding outed CIA operative Valerie Plame, the wife of an Iraq war critic.

Pardons are an end-of-the-year presidential tradition, and Mr. Bush was not expected to issue any more this year. He last issued pardons in August.

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

He said that after investigation by the Office of the Pardon Attorney at the Justice Department, most weight is given to these factors:

  • the seriousness of the crime;
  • how long ago it was committed;
  • the acceptance of responsibility and showing of remorse;
  • post-conviction conduct and contributions to society;
  • any specific compelling need for relief;
  • official recommendations, including from the sentencing judge, the probation officer and the federal prosecutor.

    Mr. Bush remains among the stingiest of postwar presidents on pardons and commutations.

    President Clinton issued a total of 457 in eight years in office. Mr. Bush's father, George H. W. Bush, issued 77 in four years. President Reagan issued 406 in eight years, and President Carter issued 563 in four years.

    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.

    On the pardons list were:

  • 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.

    Mr. 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. Mr. Bush directed that Emmert's sentence expire on this coming Jan. 20, but left the supervised release intact.