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Posted at 6:29 PM ET, 12/ 3/2010

Obama issues his first pardons

By Perry Bacon Jr.

President Obama issued the first pardons of his presidency Friday afternoon, granting clemency to nine people, many of whom were convicted of minor drug crimes and did not serve jail time.

In a move that seemed to acknowledge the potential political and security risks involved, Obama did not pardon any high-profile offenders. Six of nine had been sentenced to probation rather than serving jail time. Four were involved in either distribution or use of cocaine.

One of the pardons was from a liquor law violation in Georgia in the 1960. The most recent was a Texas man convicted of trying to counterfeit money in 1999.

The White House declined to comment on why these individuals had been chosen or why Obama had picked this time in his presidency to issue his first pardons. President Bush also granted pardons for the first time late in his second year in office.

"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," said Reid Cherlin, a White House spokesman.

Here is the list of pardon recipients:


  • James Bernard Banks, of Liberty, Utah, sentenced to two years of probation in 1972 for illegal possession of government property.

  • Russell James Dixon, of Clayton, Ga., sentenced to two years of probation in 1960 for a liquor law violation.

  • Laurens Dorsey, of Syracuse, N.Y., sentenced in 1998 to five years of probation and $71,000 in restitution for conspiracy to defraud by making false statements to the Food and Drug Administration.

  • Ronald Lee Foster, of Beaver Falls, Pa., sentenced in 1963 to a year of probation and a $20 fine for mutilating coins.

  • Timothy James Gallagher, of Navasota, Tex., sentenced in 1982 to three years of probation for cocaine possession and conspiracy to distribute.

  • Roxane Kay Hettinger, Powder Springs, Ga., sentenced in 1986 to 30 days in jail and three years of probation for conspiracy to distribute cocaine.

  • Edgar Leopold Kranz Jr., of Minot, N.D., who received 24 months of confinement and a pay reduction for cocaine use, adultery and bouncing checks.

  • Floretta Leavy, of Rockford, Ill., sentenced in 1984 to 366 days in prison and three years of parole for drug offenses.

  • Scoey Lathaniel Morris, of Crosby, Texas, sentenced in 1999 to three years of probation for counterfeiting offenses.


By Perry Bacon Jr.  | December 3, 2010; 6:29 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency, Barack Obama  
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