RICHMOND, Va. – Gov. Tim Kaine pardoned a Newport News woman Tuesday, days before she faces deportation for a 1997 credit card theft conviction.
It was a simple pardon, which is an official forgiveness for the crime. Kathryn Anne Ingleson's fate remains in the hands of federal immigration officials, who have set her deportation for Thursday.
Ingleson, now 31, moved to the United States from England with her parents when she was 7 as a lawful resident but failed to become a naturalized citizen. In 1997 she was convicted of stealing credit cards from customers at the store where she worked to buy a Christmas tree, some ornaments and other items valued at about $340. She paid restitution and completed probation.
When she returned from visiting a relative in England in 2003, Ingleson was arrested and placed in removal proceedings. Her appeals have been denied by immigration officials and the courts.
Ingleson's attorney plans to take the pardon Wednesday to the Newport News Circuit Court, where she was convicted, in an attempt to stop her deportation. If the Circuit Court judge agrees to vacate Ingleson's conviction Wednesday based on the pardon, attorney Joseph Peter Drennan said he would appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals to throw out the removal order.
"We don't live in a police state. We live under a government that should be informed by wisdom and discretion in enforcement of the laws, and Kathryn is deserving of the relief for which she seeks," Drennan said. "She just wants to get about her life."
Kaine did not issue an absolute pardon, which is granted when the governor becomes convinced that the person did not commit the crime or did not knowingly do it. Instead, the simple pardon is forgiveness for Ingleson having paid restitution, satisfied all sentencing obligations and "provided evidence of a commendable adjustment following conviction," Kaine's attorney Lawrence Roberts wrote to Drennan.
Roberts said "the Commonwealth fully supports action by the federal government to permit Ms. Ingleson to remain in the United States and her continued residence in the Commonwealth."
Ingleson has applied for a stay of deportation with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.
A message left after hours for an ICE spokeswoman was not immediately returned.
Ingleson was an 18-year-old single mother when she stole the credit cards in 1996. She confessed when confronted about it, but wasn't prosecuted until the following year after a law took effect that expanded the categories of deportable offenses.
Since then, she has worked at a packaging company, kept a clean record and raised her two children, ages 18 and 9, Drennan said.
"The essential theme here is that this is a lady who had one contact with the law in her entire life," Drennan said. "She was a law-abiding person before this happened she has been a law-abiding since this has happened. She has worked hard and played by the rules."
After her arrest in 2003, Ingleson's case was reviewed by ICE, an Immigration Court judge, the immigration board and the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. In May, immigration officials set an Aug. 14 deportation date.
In June, she appealed to Kaine for a pardon.
Kaine spokesman Gordon Hickey said Tuesday the governor acknowledged that Ingleson's deportation is completely in the hands of federal immigration officials.
"Kathryn, culturally, is an American," her lawyer said. "Kathryn, in terms of her allegiance and affinity, would be lost in England."
He called the process of petitioning to return "virtually labyrinthian, and added, "It could take five years, it could take a lifetime."