Obama 's First Pardons: Why Even Bother?

President Obama has granted nine pardons, the first of his presidency. Four people who received light sentences for low level cocaine offenses, none of whom are now in prison, got pardons.

Four of the cases involve people convicted of possessing cocaine who were given sentences that the president deemed excessive.

Is the President clueless as to the draconian sentences being served today by drug offenders? Here are the sentences he deemed excessive and deserving of a pardon -- all completed a long time ago.

  • Roxane Kay Hettinger, Powder Springs, Ga., sentenced in 1986 to 30 days in jail and three years of probation for conspiracy to distribute cocaine.
  • Timothy James Gallagher of Navasota, Texas, sentenced in 1982 to three years of probation for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine.
  • Floretta Leavy of Rockford, Ill., who was sentenced to a year and a day in prison in Kansas in 1984 on a drug-possession conviction.
  • Edgar Leopold Kranz Jr. of Minot, N.D., who received 24 months of confinement and a reduction in pay for wrongful use of cocaine, adultery and writing bounced checks.

Really, really disappointing.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Ghost of Willie Horton (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by diogenes on Fri Dec 03, 2010 at 09:49:44 PM EST
    He probably picked people who have stayed out of trouble for 25 years and won't embarrass him by committing another crime after the pardon.  If he pardoned ten current prisoners, the odds are pretty good that several would commit new crimes by 2012, and he wouldn't want that to happen.

    Or ghosts of (none / 0) (#12)
    by CoralGables on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 11:15:45 AM EST
    Jeremy Giefer, which would be completely justified.

    I see what you mean. Not the best (none / 0) (#26)
    by oculus on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 02:20:43 PM EST
    excercise of discretion, espec. in light of Geifer's wife's wanting to open a child care center.  Perfect set up.  

    There's a lot to be said (none / 0) (#28)
    by CoralGables on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 02:34:07 PM EST
    for waiting before issuing pardons. The statement from White House spokesman Reid Cherlin was, "The president was moved by the strength of the applicants' post-conviction efforts at atonement, as well as their superior citizenship and individual achievements in the years since their convictions," This contradicts Jeralyn's statement of, "Here are the sentences he deemed excessive and deserving of a pardon".

    On another front, will you pardon the pads GM after he loses AD and HB? (to be continued on an open thread)


    Absolutely not. Disgusting. And they (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by oculus on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 02:46:51 PM EST

    Gov. Pawlenty would get your point, diogenes. (none / 0) (#24)
    by christinep on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 01:33:50 PM EST
    More proof that everything Obama touches (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by shoephone on Fri Dec 03, 2010 at 10:27:15 PM EST
    comes out tepid.

    What O needs for Christmas . . . (5.00 / 3) (#4)
    by nycstray on Fri Dec 03, 2010 at 11:19:15 PM EST
    A) A Spine

    B) A 'Pair'

    C) Some Liberal blood

    D) All of the above

    For the rest of us, pad your desks and keyboards, your head will thank you :)

    Well, Since O is on Christmas list: (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by dead dancer on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 09:45:36 AM EST
    A) A Spine

    I was always told "People are starving in China" so only take what you can use.

    Not going to waste a perfectly good spine.

    B) A 'Pair'

    No matter how tiny they might be, there are two children; assuming the milk man ...

    C) Some Liberal blood

    If a spine can't do it, I doubt blood will either. Besides, liberal blood with a spine is a very rare commodity.

    D) All of the above

    I could try and bombard O with all three, but I'm not sure what kind of monster that would create.

    In the end, i'm left with only one option:

    A Lump of Coal


    As a Senate Candidate in 2004 (5.00 / 3) (#5)
    by Ben Masel on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 02:10:42 AM EST
    he pledged to work to end mandatory minimum sentences, No follow through as a Senator.

    THe man is terrified of himself (4.00 / 3) (#35)
    by Inspector Gadget on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 08:07:03 PM EST
    or he would know what he stood for.

    I, for one, am always doubly terrified of any person who doesn't even trust themselves.


    Disappointing? (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Left of the Left on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 02:45:30 AM EST
    More like predictable.

    Let's be fair. (5.00 / 4) (#10)
    by lentinel on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 11:05:26 AM EST
    A very well deserved pardon was the one Obama fearlessly issued to the person convicted in 1963 for "mutilation of coins".

    Jails have become seriously overcrowded with perpetrators of this pernicious activity. People convicted of toasting  the entire contents of their piggy-banks have sometimes been flown to unknown destinations in unknown vehicles.

    Justice for coin benders!

    I happen to (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by CoralGables on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 11:12:00 AM EST
    be in possession of a family heirloom ring made out of a silver dollar from the 1800's so I rather enjoyed reading about this pardon.

    The statute's origin (none / 0) (#14)
    by Ben Masel on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 11:24:46 AM EST
    When coins wer gold and silver, the unscrupulous would shave them and melt the metal, then make purchases with the rump at face value.

    Technically (none / 0) (#15)
    by jbindc on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 11:29:02 AM EST
    He shaved the rims off pennies to use them as dimes.  Fraud, anyone?

    Just curious... (none / 0) (#27)
    by lentinel on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 02:29:01 PM EST
    Since pennies are copper in color, and dimes are silver in color, exactly how do you suppose he proposed to get away with it?

    Parking meters?


    He used them on vending machines (none / 0) (#33)
    by nyjets on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 05:08:00 PM EST
    I believe the coins were used to fool vending machines

    Gee (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by lentinel on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 07:05:56 PM EST
    Can you imagine the time this guy must have spent to save 9 cents on a candy bar?

    Return him to jail and throw away the key.

    I'm also wondering - since this awful crime was committed in 1963, what has been happening to this dangerous felon in the last fifty years - and how did he luck out that the President noticed his case?


    Here ya go (none / 0) (#36)
    by CoralGables on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 08:15:59 PM EST
    From what I can find on Ronald Foster:

    Served a tour of duty in Vietnam, joined the Pennsylvania National Guard, worked as a supervisor at the Babcock & Wilcox plant in Beaver Falls, was a member of the Patterson Township Volunteer Fire Department for 35 years and was a member of the Patterson Township zoning board.

    That seems to fit quite nicely under the statement from the White House on the pardons.


    More info than the link provides (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by jbindc on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 11:21:55 AM EST

    Here is the complete list of the pardons granted today by Mr. Obama:

    James Bernard Banks - Liberty, Utah

    Offense: Illegal possession of government property; 18 U.S.C. ? 641.
    Sentence: Oct. 31, 1972; District of Utah; two years of probation.

    Russell James Dixon - Clayton, Ga.

    Offense: Felony liquor law violation; 26 U.S.C. ? 5604(a)(1).
    Sentence: June 23, 1960; Northern District of Georgia; two years of probation.

    Laurens Dorsey - Syracuse, N.Y.

    Offense: Conspiracy to defraud the United States by making false statements to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; 18 U.S.C. ?? 371, 1001.
    Sentence: Aug. 31, 1998; District of New Jersey; five years of probation and $71,000 restitution.

    Ronald Lee Foster - Beaver Falls, Penn.

    Offense: Mutilation of coins; 18 U.S.C. ? 331.
    Sentence: Oct. 4, 1963; Eastern District of North Carolina; one year of probation and $20 fine.

    Timothy James Gallagher - Navasota, Texas

    Offense: Conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine; 21 U.S.C. ? 846.
    Sentence: Oct. 18, 1982; District of Arizona; three years of probation.

    Roxane Kay Hettinger - Powder Springs, Ga.

    Offense: Conspiracy to distribute cocaine; 21 U.S.C. ?? 841(a)(1) and 846.
    Sentence: March 31, 1986; Northern District of Iowa; 30 days in jail followed by three years of probation.

    Edgar Leopold Kranz Jr. - Minot, N.D.

    Offense: Wrongful use of cocaine, adultery and writing three insufficient fund checks; Articles 112a and 134, Uniform Code of Military Justice.
    Sentence: Sept. 14, 1994, as approved Nov. 4, 1994; General court-martial convened at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii; bad conduct discharge (suspended), 24 months of confinement and reduction to pay grade E-1.

    Floretta Leavy - Rockford, Ill.

    Offense: Distribution of cocaine, conspiracy to distribute cocaine, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute; 21 U.S. C. ?? 841(a)(1), (a)(2) and 846, 18 U.S.C. ? 2.
    Sentence: Oct. 19, 1984; District of Kansas; one year and one day in prison and three years of special parole.

    Scoey Lathaniel Morris - Crosby, Texas

    Offense: Passing counterfeit obligations or securities; 18 U.S.C. ?? 472 and 2.
    Sentence: May 21, 1999; Western District of Texas; three years of probation and $1,200 restitution, jointly and severally.

    Looks like most of them just got probation in the first place.  Some also had fines.  One was confined under a court-martial, and only 2 (Aside from the soldier) got any jail/prison time (one was for 30 days).

    Nickel and dime crimes.  Glad he went out on a limb with these pardons.

    "Really, really disappointing." (5.00 / 3) (#21)
    by desertswine on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 12:12:41 PM EST
    As has been the last two years.

    And Leonard Peltier rots in jail (5.00 / 5) (#22)
    by Dadler on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 12:19:01 PM EST
    An innocent man, railroaded by a completely corrupt prosecution entirely politically motivated, convicted with evidence not a SHRED of which is considered credible today, and still he sits in jail rotting.

    He is the most tenured political prisoner in America today. And not even the great conciliator Obama can mention his name.

    Mr. President, you are a failure of inexcusable proportions. And quite the coward to boot.

    Leonard Peltier Documentary (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Dadler on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 12:25:25 PM EST
    Recently saw "Free Leonard Peltier" ... (none / 0) (#40)
    by sj on Sun Dec 05, 2010 at 12:48:58 PM EST
    ...bumper sticker.  Broke my heart all over again.

    From "Contact from the Underworld of Redboy"


    I think Obama believes that (5.00 / 2) (#25)
    by BobTinKY on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 02:15:01 PM EST
    the millions upon millions of progressives who put him in the White House were seeking a stern, serious leader to discipline them and provide order to their wayward, undisciplined lives.

    He's tough on the deficit (right), prosecuting war, criminals, etc.  He is the progressive leader to show all non-progressives how he has awakened us lefties to our immaturity and idealistic  fantasies, & that we're now ready to accept the Reagan Revolution and acknowledge the folly of our politics.


    Hey, you wouldn't actually expect (5.00 / 7) (#30)
    by Anne on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 02:48:09 PM EST
    Obama to do anything the least bit controversial, would you, involving principles and what-not?  Because if he did, the Republicans and law-and-order types would say mean things about him, so his only choice was to go with what I guess I would call "water under the bridge" situations: people who had already done their time, and for whom a pardon would just correct the record (not that correcting the record is a small thing, but it's really the least of what he has the power to do).

    He's essentially, I think, completely gutless; I'm not sure I can think of a president who has exhibited less courage than this one, whose actions have revealed that he has a near-pathological fear of doing something that will banish him from the Kool Kidz table in the lunchroom.

    Or maybe it's just more in keeping with someone whose leanings are much more authoritarian than they are libertarian.

    He has less character (5.00 / 2) (#31)
    by observed on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 02:51:58 PM EST
    than John Edwards.

    Gutless? (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by sj on Sun Dec 05, 2010 at 12:48:21 PM EST
    Yeah, probably.  But worse than that, in my view, I have yet to detect a shred of compassion in the man.

    Passion (none / 0) (#42)
    by cal1942 on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 11:53:07 PM EST
    I detect no passion whatsoever.  No deeply felt policy convictions.

    Not worth spit.


    In an act of compassion, (5.00 / 0) (#32)
    by KeysDan on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 03:52:50 PM EST
    President Obama doubled the number of turkeys pardoned this Thanksgiving: from one to two.

    Surprised that anyone (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by cal1942 on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 08:17:01 PM EST
    had any expectations of any kind.

    I never did have (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by Zorba on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 09:11:43 PM EST
    many expectations for Obama (although I voted for him in the general election, considering the alternative).  But then, I was a Dennis Kucinich supporter, so that makes me the "left of the left," I guess.  Plus a DFH.  Obama has turned out even worse than I had anticipated, however (and my anticipations were never all that great to begin with).

    Yeah (none / 0) (#41)
    by cal1942 on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 11:44:59 PM EST
    I also could probably be categorized as a DFH.  Given the policy positions of DFHs I would be proud to be called a DFH.

    I supported Edwards in the primaries until he dropped out.

    The thing about being the left of the left in these times is that compared on a broad scale us left of the left people are really staid and practical, downright conservative.  Small c.

    There is nothing practical about Conservatives.  Large C.


    Must we wait until to tomorrow to learn (none / 0) (#3)
    by oculus on Fri Dec 03, 2010 at 10:42:37 PM EST
    if those pardoned have contributed many $$ to Dems.?

    All the coke cases preceded (none / 0) (#6)
    by Ben Masel on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 02:13:56 AM EST
    the 1986 enactment of mandatory sentences.

    President to 2.5% of the population.... (none / 0) (#8)
    by kdog on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 07:47:26 AM EST
    drop dead.

    Nickel and dime crimes (none / 0) (#16)
    by CoralGables on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 11:29:08 AM EST
    and those that were wrongly convicted are the ones that deserve pardons.

    Talk to the governors (none / 0) (#18)
    by jbindc on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 11:30:58 AM EST
    The president can't pardon anyone not convicted of a federal crime.  If you assert that there are thousands upon thousands of wrongfully convicted people languishing in state jails and prison systems, then you need to talk to the governors.

    I'm not suggesting anything (none / 0) (#19)
    by CoralGables on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 11:59:59 AM EST
    other than I have no problem with a lack of pardons or as some suggest not going out on a limb.

    Kind of a yawner, no? (none / 0) (#20)
    by oculus on Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 12:06:51 PM EST
    immediate disability rather than being a determination of excessive sentence.  They were not excessive that I can determine at all.  What could be excessive is the disability that comes with a criminal conviction.