- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 24, 2008

President Bush granted clemency to 20 people Tuesday, including a man who was convicted of delivering planes used by Israel in its 1948 war of independence and a real estate developer whose father has donated tens of thousands of dollars to Republican candidates and the party.

Charles Winters, who died in 1984, bought and transferred three B-17 bombers to what would eventually become the Israeli Air Force. He pleaded guilty to violating the Neutrality Act and received jail time.

Another man who received a pardon - Issac Robert Toussie, of Brooklyn, N.Y. - pleaded guilty in 2001 to fraudulently obtaining mortgages from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Public records show his father, real estate investor Robert Toussie, has donated or helped raise more than $35,000 for Republican candidates and the party.

Reginald Brown, an attorney who worked on the Winters pardon, said Mr. Bush’s action “rights a historical wrong and honors Charlie’s belief that the creation of the Jewish state was a moral imperative of his time. … Charlie Winters helped shape human history for the better.”

Those who were pardoned Tuesday were convicted of crimes ranging from drug offenses to mortgage fraud.

In addition to Mr. Winters and Mr. Toussie, those pardoned were William Thomas Alvis III of Flushing, Ohio; John Allen Aregood of Riviera, Texas; Eric Charles Blanke of Parker, Colo.; Steve Doyle Cavender of the Villages, Fla.; Marie Elena Eppens of Lynden, Wash.; Lydia Lee Ferguson of Sun City, Ariz.; Eduviges Duvi Gonzalez-Matsumura of Clovis, Calif.; George Clarence Greene Jr. of Gray, Ga.; James Won Hee Kang of South Barrington, Ill.; and Alan Stephen Maiss of Reno, Nev.

Also, Richard Harold Miller of Tallahassee, Fla.; Delano Abraham Nixon of Neosho Rapids, Kan.; John H. Overholt of Black Hawk, S.D.; Morris Keith Parker of Georgetown, S.C.; Robert Truman Reece of Redondo Beach, Calif.; Donald Edward Roessler of Harrison, Ohio; and David Lane Woolsey of St. George, Utah.

Mr. Bush commuted the sentence of Reed Raymond Prior of Des Moines, Iowa, who was sentenced to life in prison for possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute.

Mr. Winters is only the second person to receive a pardon posthumously. Henry O. Flipper, the first black graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, was drummed out of the Army after white officers accused him of embezzling about $3,800 from commissary funds. Mr. Flipper initially discovered the funds missing from his custody and concealed their disappearance from superiors, hoping the money would return. President Clinton gave Mr. Flipper a full pardon in 1999.

The list of those granted clemency Tuesday did not include any high-profile criminals seeking pardons before Mr. Bush leaves office in January.

Financier Michael Milken, known as the “Junk Bond King,” is seeking a pardon; commutations are being sought for former Louisiana Gov. Edwin W. Edwards, former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, California Republican, and Border Patrol agents, Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, who are serving prison time for shooting a drug smuggler. Dozens of lawmakers in Washington have been pushing Mr. Bush to pardon the agents.

Former vice-presidential aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby Jr., whose conviction last year of obstruction of justice and perjury stemmed from an investigation into the release of CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity, has not applied for a pardoned, according to the Justice Department. But Mr. Bush already commuted Libby’s 30-month prison. A pardon can be granted even if an application is not made.

So far, Mr. Bush has granted 190 pardons and nine commutations. That puts him far behind recent two-term presidents; Mr. Clinton granted 396 pardons and 61 commutations, while President Reagan granted 393 pardons and 13 commutations.

Stephen Dinan contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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