Obama Pardons Four Drug Offenders, But Commutes No Sentences

In the first pardons of his administration, President Obama Friday set aside the sentences of nine people, including four drug offenders. None of the pardons came for offenses committed within the past decade, and none of the more than 100,000 people currently incarcerated in federal prisons for drug offenses had their sentences commuted.

mercy seasons justice, but just barely (whitehouse.gov)
Pardons grant clemency to people who have already served their sentences, while commutations are granted to people still serving sentences to allow them to go free early.

The non-drug offenses for which pardons were handed out were trivial: a Utah man who got probation for illegal possession of government property in 1972, a Georgia man who got probation for a federal liquor law violation in 1960, a New York man who got probation and a fine for conspiracy to defraud the US in 1988, a Pennsylvania man who got probation and a $20 fine for -- gasp! -- mutilating coins in 1963, and a Texas man who got probation for passing fraudulent securities in 1999.

All four of the drug offenses concerned cocaine. The pardoned drug offenders are:

  • Timothy James Gallagher of Navasota, Texas, who was convicted of conspiracy to distribute and conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine in 1982 and sentenced to three years probation.
  • Roxane Kay Hettinger of Powder Springs, Georgia, who was convicted of conspiracy to distribute cocaine in 1986 and served 30 days in jail and three years on probation.
  • Edgar Leopold Kranz, Jr. of Minot, North Dakota, who was convicted in a military court of wrongful use of cocaine, adultery, and writing bad checks in 1994 and who served 24 months of confinement.
  • Floretta Leavy of Rockford, Illinois, who was convicted in 1984 of distribution of cocaine, conspiracy to distribute cocaine, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, and served a year and a day in prison and three years on special parole.

"The president was moved by the strength of the applicants' post-conviction efforts at atonement, as well as their superior citizenship and individual achievements," said White House spokesman Reid Cherlin.

When it comes to pardons and commutations, President Obama is off to a slow start. President Bill Clinton pardoned hundreds and commuted the sentences of dozens, including prominent drug war prisoners Dorothy Gaines and Kemba Smith during his eight years in office. President George W. Bush pardoned more than 100 people and commuted the sentences of 11 more, including eight drug offenders, during his eight years in office.

Washington, DC
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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