- The Washington Times - Friday, December 22, 2006


President Bush gave a pre-Christmas gift to 17 minor criminals, but even after adding these pardons and one sentence commutation to his record he remains one of the least-forgiving of presidents.

Six of the federal offenses involved in the 16 pardons and one commutation issued Thursday 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 17 weren’t even sent to prison or jail, getting probation, small fines or other penalties instead. 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.

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

He said that most weight is given to the seriousness of the crime, how long ago it was committed, acceptance of responsibility and remorse, an applicant’s conduct and contribution to society, and recommendations from the sentencing judge, probation officer and prosecutor.

Since World War II, the largest number of pardons and commutations — 2,031 — came from President Truman, who served 82 days short of eight years. Other recent presidents issued hundreds each, though Mr. Bush’s father, George Bush, handed out only 77 pardons and commutations in four years in office.

A pardon amounts to federal forgiveness for one’s crime, while a commutation merely cuts short an existing prison term.

On the pardons list were:

• Charles James Allen of Winchester, Va. — conspiracy to defraud the United States. A former federal employee, Mr. Allen was convicted in 1979 for approving payments to James Hilles Associates Inc., a Virginia firm, for office supplies that were never delivered. In return, Mr. Allen received car parts, a radio, a freezer and other gifts from the firm. He was sentenced to a year of custody to be served by 30 days in jail, 90 days in a work-release program, and the remaining period on parole.

• William Sidney Baldwin Sr. of Green Pond, S.C. — conspiracy to possess marijuana. Sentenced Oct. 27, 1981, to six years’ imprisonment.

• Dale C. Critz Jr., Savannah, Ga. — making a false statement. Sentenced July 13, 1989, to three years’ probation.

• 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.

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