Clinton Issues Pardons, Clearing Deutch
and McDougal, but Not Milken or Hubbell

Marc Lacey - NY Times - January 21, 2001

With just hours to go in his presidency today, Bill Clinton issued pardons to 140 people, including John Deutch, a former director of central intelligence; Henry G. Cisneros, a former secretary of Housing and Urban Development; and Susan H. McDougal, a onetime Clinton business partner who was jailed in the Whitewater scandal.

Others receiving presidential pardons in one of Mr. Clinton's last official acts were his half-brother, Roger, who pleaded guilty to distributing cocaine in Arkansas, and Patricia Hearst Shaw, the heiress who robbed a bank in 1974 after being kidnapped by a small band of political radicals that called itself the Symbionese Liberation Army.

Aides to the president said those on the list fit no pattern. Some, in Mr. Clinton's view, had been victims of overzealous prosecutors. Others had made a convincing case in their written petitions that they had already paid their debt to society.

The offenses of those on the list varied widely. There were white-collar criminals and drug offenders, killers and an accused spy. Arnold Paul Prosperi, a fund-raiser for the former president, had been convicted of embezzling money from a law client. David Ronald Chandler, who long insisted he was innocent, was the first person sentenced to death under the federal drug kingpin law. Both had their sentences commuted. Norman Lyle Prouse, who received a pardon, was among the first commercial pilots to be convicted of flying while intoxicated. Witnesses testified that Mr. Prouse had consumed 15 to 20 rum-and-colas at the Speak Easy bar in Moorhead, Minn., the night before a 6:30 a.m. flight.

Just as significant as the pardons the president issued were the ones he did not hand down. Without explaining his decisions, Mr. Clinton declined to issue pardons to the onetime Wall Street financier Michael R. Milken; Leonard Peltier, the American Indian who was convicted of killing two F.B.I. agents in 1975; the former Justice Department official Webster L. Hubbell, who was a close Clinton friend and a former law partner of Hillary Rodham Clinton's; and the spy Jonathan Pollard.

The pardon of Mr. Deutch spares the former spy director any criminal charges for mishandling secret information on his home computer. Mr. Deutch, who resigned in 1996, has already had his security clearance stripped. He had been considering a deal with the Justice Department in which he would plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of keeping classified data on home computers.

Mr. Deutch's lawyer, Terrence O'Donnell, declined to comment.

Mr. Cisneros pleaded guilty in 1999 to a misdemeanor count of lying to F.B.I. agents about payments to a former mistress while he was being considered for a job in the Clinton cabinet. By agreeing to the plea deal with the independent counsel David M. Barrett, he avoided a trial on 18 felony charges.

The pardon of Ms. McDougal came just as the independent counsel Robert W. Ray agreed to close his investigation of Mr. Clinton's misstatements during his deposition in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case. When the original investigation began in 1994, it focused on whether the Clintons had received special treatment from Ms. McDougal and her husband, fellow investors in the Whitewater land venture.

Ms. McDougal spent 21 months in jail for refusing to testify about Mr. Clinton to Mr. Ray's predecessor, Kenneth W. Starr.

"She's absolutely delighted," said her lawyer, Mark Geragos. "She is speechless for once in her life. And I think it is especially poignant that it was one of the last acts of Bill Clinton's administration."

Mr. Clinton's half-brother, Roger, served time in prison after pleading guilty in 1985 to a charge of conspiracy to distribute cocaine. He had tried to sell the drug to an undercover state trooper in Hot Springs, Ark. The former president has said in the past that the conviction, while unfortunate, helped straighten out his brother's life.

Mrs. Shaw's bank robbery conviction has been challenged for more than two decades. Former President Jimmy Carter commuted her seven-year jail sentence in 1979 but she continued to pursue a full pardon. She participated in the holdup of the Hibernia Bank in San Francisco on April 15, 1974, but said from the start that her kidnappers coerced her.

Others who were pardoned by Mr. Clinton today included the former Arizona governor Fife Symington, a Republican, who was convicted in 1997 on six of counts of bank and wire fraud. The convictions were overturned on appeal but prosecutors asked for a rehearing.

Also pardoned was Peter MacDonald, a former Navajo chief convicted of conspiracy and burglary in a 1989 riot in Arizona that left two of his followers dead. He also served a six-year sentence for bribery.

The conviction stemmed from an unsuccessful five-month struggle by Mr. MacDonald to reverse a 1989 decision by the Navajos' Tribal Council to suspend him as chairman after he was accused of corruption at hearings before a Senate committee.

Departing presidents often issue pardons, though Mr. Clinton's latest batch was unusual in that it came just hours before the inauguration of George W. Bush as his successor. Christmas Eve is a traditional date for White House pardons. On Dec. 24, 1992, former President George Bush pardoned six officials from the administration of Ronald Reagan, including Caspar W. Weinberger, the former secretary of defense; and Robert C. McFarlane, the former national security adviser.

Mr. Weinberger had been accused of misleading Congress about the Iran-Contra affair, and Mr. McFarlane had pleaded guilty to withholding information from Congress about the affair.

The latest pardons brought the total number issued over the course of Mr. Clinton's presidency to nearly 400 a smaller number per year than his recent predecessors issued.

Mr. Clinton, who was barraged with pardon requests in recent weeks, left more than a thousand petitions pending for the new president. As for commutations, which reduce the punishment doled out, Mr. Clinton issued 36 of those today, bringing his total to 61.

Four of those on the president's list were caught up in the investigation of the former agriculture secretary Mike Espy, an inquiry that resulted in the acquittal of the ex-cabinet member himself.

Ronald H. Blackley, a former aide to Mr. Espy, was convicted in late 1997 of making false statements about $22,000 in outside income he received while serving as the secretary's chief of staff. He was sent to prison for 27 months, a sentence Mr. Clinton commuted.

John J. Hemmingson, a former chief executive of a Kansas crop insurance company, was convicted in 1997 of laundering a $20,000 campaign contribution to Mr. Espy's brother, Henry, who was trying to win Mike Espy's old Congressional seat. Mr. Hemmingson received a presidential pardon.

Richard Douglas, the former head of a fruit cooperative, was convicted the same year of giving $7,000 in illegal gifts to the agriculture secretary. He also received a pardon.

Alvarez Ferroulliet, who also received a pardon, was a lawyer for Henry Espy. He pleaded guilty in 1997 to conspiracy and making false statements to a bank in connection with a $75,000 campaign loan.

Others who received pardons or commutations from Mr. Clinton:

  • Marc Rich and Pincus Green were once among the world's leading commodity traders. Their companies pleaded guilty in 1984 to evading millions of dollars in taxes by hiding profits on crude-oil trading. But Mr. Rich and Mr. Green avoided prosecution themselves by flying to Switzerland, which has refused to extradite them to the United States. Mr. Rich's former wife, Denise, is a songwriter and has been a fund-raiser for the Democratic Party.

  • Adolph Schwimmer, an Israeli arms dealer and friend of the former Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres, became ensnarled in the Iran-contra scandal during the Reagan administration.

  • Howard Mechanic threw cherry bombs at the authorities in 1970 during a protest in St. Louis. Mr. Mechanic was sentenced to five years in prison but he fled, living under an alias for decades. He revealed his true identity when he decided to run for public office.

  • Derrick Curry was among many drug defendants to receive pardons. Mr. Curry was arrested in 1990 in a drug sting in suburban Washington. He received a sentence of nearly 20 years in prison for conspiracy and distribution of crack cocaine. His case was seized upon by critics of mandatory minimum sentence laws, which restrict judges' options.

  • Edward R. Downe Jr. was a prominent Long Island businessman who was convicted on two counts of insider trading, a practice that prosecutors said was often conducted poolside in luxury homes in Southampton. A former husband of the automobile heiress Charlotte Ford, Mr. Downe also settled separate complaints by the Securities and Exchange Commission by paying an estimated $11 million in fines.

  • Samuel Loring Morison, a onetime Navy intelligence analyst, was convicted on espionage charges for providing spy satellite photographs to the news media. Mr. Morison, the grandson of the historian Samuel Eliot Morison, had argued that he had acted in furtherance or journalism when he sent the photographs of Soviet vessels to Jane's Defence Weekly. But the courts rejected his defense that his activities were protected by the First Amendment.

  • Christopher V. Wade was a real estate salesman for the Whitewater venture in Arkansas. He was convicted of two charges of bankruptcy fraud by the Whitewater special prosecutor, Mr. Starr, in a case unrelated to the Clintons'. Mr. Starr had said he hoped Mr. Wade would prove a valuable witness about the Clintons' financial dealings in connection to Whitewater but he proved not to be. Mr. Wade handled the finances of the failed Whitewater enterprise from its earliest days.

  • See Also: The Clemency Page