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A look at the 29 people Trump pardoned or gave commutations

December 24, 2020 GMT
President Donald Trump waves as he boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020. Trump is traveling to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
President Donald Trump waves as he boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020. Trump is traveling to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

WASHINGTON (AP) — For a second night in a row, President Donald Trump issued a round of pardons and commutations in the final weeks of his presidency, giving full pardons to his former campaign chairman, his son-in-law’s father and another of his allies convicted in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

The list also included people whose pleas for forgiveness have been promoted by those supporting the president throughout his term in office, including conservative media personalities and Republican lawmakers.

A look at the 29 people granted pardons or clemency on Wednesday.

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PAUL MANAFORT

Manafort was Trump’s former campaign chairman and was among the first people to be charged in Mueller’s investigation, which examined possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election campaign. He was released from a low-security federal prison in May to serve his sentence on home confinement due to concerns about the coronavirus. Prior to his release, he had been jailed since June 2018 and was serving more than seven years in prison following his conviction.

Manafort was prosecuted in two federal courts and was convicted by a jury in federal court in Virginia in 2018 and later pleaded guilty in Washington. He was sentenced last March and was immediately hit with state charges in New York after prosecutors accused him of giving false information on a mortgage loan application. A New York judge threw out state mortgage fraud charges, ruling that the criminal case was too similar to one that already landed Manafort in prison. Prosecutors appealed that ruling last month.

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ROGER STONE

Stone has been a longtime friend and ally of the president. He was also convicted in Mueller’s investigation for lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstructing the House investigation into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election.

Trump commuted his sentence in July just days before he was scheduled to report to federal prison. On Wednesday, he issued Stone a full pardon.

Pardoning Manafort and Stone underscores the president’s lingering rage over Mueller’s investigation and is part of a continuing effort by the president to rewrite the narrative of a probe that shadowed his presidency for two years.

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CHARLES KUSHNER

Kushner is the father of Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and a wealthy real estate executive who pleaded guilty years ago to tax evasion and making illegal campaign donations. The two knew each other from real estate circles and their children were married in 2009. Trump issued him a full pardon on Wednesday.

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Kushner, who is from New Jersey, pleaded guilty to 18 counts that also included witness tampering and was sentenced in 2005 to two years in prison, but emerged to resume his career in real estate and his company Kushner Cos. purchased the famed Watchtower complex along the Brooklyn Bridge, the former headquarters for the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Kushner was also a major Democratic donor, and agreed to pay $508, 900 to the Federal Election Commission after he violated contribution regulations by failing to obtain an OK from partners to whom more than $500,000 in campaign contributions were attributed. But he donated more than $100,000 to Trump’s 2015 campaign.

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MARGARET HUNTER

Hunter is the wife of former U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, who Trump pardoned on Tuesday. Along with her husband, she was also convicted of conspiracy to misuse campaign funds and was sentenced to three years of probation. Her husband, a Southern California Republican, had pleaded guilty to stealing about $150,000 from his campaign funds to pay for a lavish lifestyle, from vacations to outings with friends, private school tuition and his daughter’s birthday party.

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JOHN TATE AND JESSE BENTON

The men were top staffers on Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign and convicted in 2016 of causing false records and campaign expenditure reports to be filed to the Federal Election Commission. Prosecutors said Tate, Benton and a third campaign official tried to hide $73,000 in payments to former Iowa Sen. Kent Sorenson for his endorsement of Paul. They argue that they broke no laws when they concealed the payments through a third-party campaign vendor.

The White House said the pardons were supported by a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission and by Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky who is also the son of Ron Paul.

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STEPHANIE MOHR

The former Maryland police officer was convicted in 2001 of violating a homeless man’s civil rights by letting her police dog attack him even though he had surrendered. Prosecutors said after the man had surrendered, Mohr released her police dog and the canine bit into the man’s leg, requiring ten stitches. Mohr, the first canine handler in the Prince George’s County police force, served 10 years in prison.

She was convicted of violating the man’s civil rights under the color of authority; another officer who faced trial in the case was acquitted.

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GARY BRUGMAN

The former U.S. Border Patrol agent was convicted of striking and violating the civil rights of a man who had crossed the U.S. border illegally. Court records said Brugman and other Border Patrol officers had stopped a group of people who crossed the border illegally and during the encounter, he struck one of the men with his foot, pushing him to the ground and then hit the man with his hands.

The man later filed a complaint when he was in custody at a Border Patrol station. Brugman had worked as a Border Patrol agent for four years in Eagle Pass, Texas.

He served 27 months in prison. The White House said his pardon was supported by several Republican members of Congress and conservative media personalities, including Laura Ingraham, Sara Carter, Glenn Beck and Lou Dobbs, along with former New York City Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik, who also was convicted of a federal crime and pardoned by Trump.

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MARY MCCARTY

McCarty, a former county commissioner in Palm Beach County, Florida, was issued a full pardon on Wednesday. She was convicted of a federal criminal charge for honest services fraud.

When she was convicted, prosecutors said she had misused her position as a county commissioner to “personally enrich herself, her husband, and their associates through a series of municipal bond transactions” and by receiving gifts and gratuities from people doing business with the Board of County Commissioners.

The White House said her pardon was supported by former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Christopher Ruddy, the CEO of Newsmax Media.

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MARK SILJANDER

The former Southwest Michigan congressman was convicted of obstructing justice and failing to register as a foreign agent. He was sentenced to serve more than a year in prison after being accused of accepting stolen funds on behalf of a Missouri charity with alleged terrorism ties.

Prosecutors said an associate had conspired to hire Siljander to lobby for the charity’s removal from a government list of charities suspected of funding international terrorism. The charity closed in October 2004 after being designated a global terrorist organization by the U.S. government

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CHRISTOPHER II X, FORMERLY CHRISTOPHER ANTHONY BRYANT

The prominent community leader in Louisville, Kentucky, was issued a full pardon for his conviction on federal drug charges. He was also issued a pardon by Kentucky’s governor for state offenses in 2019.

The White House said he has been a “powerful example of the possibility of redemption,” pointing to his struggle to overcome drug addiction and his work with nonprofit and community groups in Kentucky.

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ROBERT COUGHLIN

Coughlin worked in the Justice Department and was convicted of a conflict of interest charge for his role in the influence peddling scandal surrounding former lobbyist Jack Abramoff. He admitted in court in 2009 that he provided assistance to Abramoff’s lobbying team and its clients while accepting free meals and drinks and tickets to sporting events and concerts from Abramoff lobbying partner Kevin Ring. He was issued a full pardon.

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JOSEPH OCCHIPINTI

Occhipinti was an agent with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service when he was convicted in 1991 of conspiracy to violate civil rights under the color of law and making false statements. Authorities charged that he illegally detained and searched Hispanic store owners in New York City and then made false statements to cover-up those activities. His sentence was commuted after seven months in prison by President George H.W. Bush. The White House said he had earned 76 commendations during his career, including from three attorneys general.

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RICKEY KANTER

Kanter founded a company known as Dr. Comfort, selling special shoes and inserts for diabetics, and was convicted of mail fraud tied to illegal Medicare reimbursements. He was sentenced to serve a year and a day in federal prison. He had also paid a multimillion-dollar civil fine. Federal prosecutors said his diabetic shoe inserts did not meet Medicare requirements, but they were sold to Medicare beneficiaries and the company was reimbursed by the federal government.

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DANIELA GOZES-WAGNER

The Houston woman was convicted in a $50 million health care fraud scheme in 2017. Federal prosecutors said she conspired with others to falsely bill Medicare and Medicaid for millions of dollars’ worth of medical tests that were either unnecessary or just never performed. She received a sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment and was ordered to pay $15.2 million in restitution. The president commuted her sentence; the White House said the commutation was supported by several former U.S. attorneys general.

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MARK SHAPIRO AND IRVING STITSKY

Trump commuted Shapiro and Stitsky’s sentences after they were convicted in federal court in New York of defrauding more than 250 people in a $23 million real estate scam. Both men were convicted and sentenced to serve 85 years in federal prison. Prosecutors said Stitsky and Shapiro also diverted millions of dollars of investor funds for their own benefit.

The White House said the men had been offered plea deals to serve no more than nine years but had turned them down and chose instead to go to trial. A White House news release praised the men as “model prisoners,” who had earned support and praise from other inmates.

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TOPEKA SAM

Sam, now a criminal justice advocate who helped work on a bipartisan criminal justice overhaul that Trump often touts, was convicted of conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine and served three years of a more than 10-year prison sentence. She was in the White House when Trump signed the overhaul measure, known as the First Step Act, into law. Sam posted a video on Twitter shortly after the pardon was announced, thanking Trump, and saying, “this is all so surreal.”

Her case had been championed by other criminal justice reform advocates like Alice Marie Johnson, whose life sentence Trump commuted in 2018 at the urging of reality TV star Kim Kardashian West.

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JAMES BATMASIAN

Batmasian is a real-estate investor and runs property management companies in South Florida. He pleaded guilty to cheating the federal government out of more than $250,000 by failing to pay federal taxes for employees at his company. He was an influential developer and at the time was one of the largest landowners in Boca Raton, Florida. He served an eight-month prison sentence.

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CESAR LOZADA

Lozada was convicted of conspiring to distribute marijuana and served a 14-month prison sentence. He was granted a full pardon. The White House said Lozada is an immigrant from Cuba who started a pool cleaning business near Miami, Florida, and employs dozens of people.

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JOSEPH MARTIN STEPEHNS

Stephens pleaded guilty in 2008 to being a felon in possession a firearm, a federal offense. He has previously been convicted of a felony offense in 1991, when he was 19 years old, the White House said. He served 18 months in prison and was issued a full pardon on Wednesday.

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ANDREW BARRON WORDEN

Wordon, who runs an investment firm and a solar energy company, was convicted of wire fraud in 1998. The White House said he “made mistakes in running an investment firm he founded.” Records from the Securities and Exchange Commission show Worden was accused of defrauding several brokerage firms out of more than $130,000. He was issued a full pardon. The White House said Worden had begun to repay his victims before criminal charges were filed.

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JOHN BOULTBEE, PETER ATKINSON

The two men were senior executives at Hollinger International and associates of media tycoon Conrad Black. Boultbee and Atkinson were found guilty of three counts of mail fraud and each served a year in prison.

Black was a co-defendant in the case and was also convicted; Trump previously pardoned him.

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REBEKAH CHARLESTON

Charleston was arrested in 2006 for tax evasion and the White House said she is a victim of sex trafficking who was forced into prostitution. Officials said she volunteers to help sex trafficking victims and her pardon was also supported by a law enforcement agent who arrested her.

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WILLIAM J. PLEMONS JR.

The White House said Plemons was convicted of various financial crimes in the late 1990s and early 2000s and served 27 months in federal prison. Officials said he served in the Air Force and supported several charitable organizations.

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JAMES KASSOUF

Kassouf pleaded guilty in 1989 to a federal tax offense. The White House said that since his convicted, he has been devoted to his church, fire department and works with charitable organizations.

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CHRISTOPHER WADE

The White House said Wade was convicted of multiple cyber-related offenses and has “shown remorse and sought to make his community a safer place.” He was issued a full pardon.

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RUSSELL PLAISANCE

Trump granted a posthumous pardon for Plaisance, who was convicted of conspiracy to important cocaine from a 1987 case, which the White House said stemmed from “one conversation in which he participated.” A White House news release cited the judge who presided over his sentencing saying that the actions were inconsistent with Plaisance’s life history and character. Officials said he has built a tugboat business that has seven vessels and employs 50 people. The White House said the prosecutors involved in his case did not object to the pardon.