Nonviolent offenders from 13 states were granted pardons by President Barack Obama, The Washington Post reported on March 1. By pardoning the 17 individuals, Obama nearly doubled the number of pardons he has granted since taking office in 2009.These pardons are the first of Obama’s second term.
The offenders who received pardons were sentenced for minor federal offenses as falsely altering a U.S. money order, possessing an unregistered firearm, embezzling bank funds and acquiring food stamps without authorization.
Among the individuals pardoned was a Massachusetts “fishing magnate” who pleaded guilty more than 20 years ago to selling Canadian fish as American fish to the Defense Department. Also included on the pardons list, which was released on Friday, Feb. 28, was Jamari Salleh, a former Foreign Service officer, who was sentenced for submitting phony lodging vouchers to the State Department. Robert Leroy Bebee, an accomplished biotechnology inventor, was also on the pardons list. Bebee was sentenced for concealing information about a felony. Alfor Sharkey, whose crime was unauthorized acquisition of food stamps, also received a pardon from President Obama.
Obama has received much criticism for his infrequent use of his constitutional powers to pardon people for federal crimes. Before Friday, President Obama, despite receiving requests from 1,333 individuals, had granted only 22 pardons since he took office. Dafna Linzer of ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative news organization reported last year that Obama has granted clemency at a lower rate than any modern president.
Former president George W. Bush received 2,498 petitions and granted 189. Former president Bill Clinton received 2,001 petitions and granted 396 pardons, according to data maintained by the Department of Justice’s Office of Pardon Attorney.
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