Three moonshiners and a bank robber are among those pardoned, as is a Denver attorney with Republican political ties. The pardons were issued Tuesday, in keeping with a tradition of granting clemency during the holiday season.
One of those pardoned, Wendy St. Charles, is a lawyer for a Denver homebuilder, MDC Holdings, parent of Richmond American Homes, The Denver Post reported. St. Charles was convicted on drug charges in 1984 and sentenced to four years in prison.
MDC's chairman, Larry Mizel, has contributed more than half a million dollars to Republican campaigns along with his wife, Carol, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. A company spokeswoman did not immediately return a phone call from The Associated Press.
One of the moonshiners, Carl E. Cantrell of Monteagle, Tenn., said he was arrested at his still without ever selling a drop. He was convicted of federal liquor law violations in 1967 and sentenced to three years' probation.
"I wasn't trying to cause nobody no harm," he told The Knoxville News Sentinel. "I was just trying to make a living."
Also pardoned was Donald Lee Pendergrass of Ramona, Calif., who was convicted of bank robbery with a dangerous weapon in 1964.
The other pardons were for offenses such as drug possession or making false statements on loan applications.
"These are individuals who all applied for clemency, and their applications were reviewed by the Office of the Pardon Attorney and forwarded to the president, who makes the final decision on whether to grant clemency," said Justice Department spokesman John Nowacki.
The Constitution provides the president with the power to grant clemency. A presidential pardon can't expunge a conviction, but it can help regain rights such as voting and owning guns.
Those granted pardons are:
—Cantrell. Sentenced in 1967 to three years' probation for violation of IRS liquor laws.
—Charles Winston Carter of Hanna City, Ill. Sentenced in 1964 to two years' probation for conspiracy to steal U.S. property.
—Harper James Finucan of Charleston, S.C. Sentenced in 1980 to 39 months' imprisonment and five years' special parole for possession with intent to distribute marijuana.
—Bobby Frank Kay Sr. of Suffolk, Va. Sentenced in 1959 to two years' incarceration and a $1,003 fine for operation of an illegal distillery.
—Melvin L. McKee of Surprise, Ariz. Sentenced in 1982 to five years' probation conditioned upon 400 hours of community service and a $2,500 fine for conspiracy to make and cause the making of false statements in loan applications and aiding and abetting the making of a materially false statement in a loan application.
—Charles Ellis McKinley of Pall Mall, Tennessee. Sentenced in 1950 to two years' probation for violation of IRS liquor laws.
—Pendergrass. Sentenced in 1964 to 12 years' imprisonment for bank robbery.
—Charles Blurford Power of Fort Pierce, Fla. Sentenced in 1948 to one year and one day in prison for interstate transportation of a stolen motor vehicle.
—John Gregory Schillace of Hammond, La. Sentenced in 1988; sentence amended in 1989 to 20 months' imprisonment and three years of supervised release for conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute.
—St. Charles. Sentenced in 1984 to four years imprisonment, four years of special parole and four years of probation, consecutively, for conspiracy to conduct a narcotics enterprise and distribution of cocaine.
—Jimmy Lee Williams of Mesquite, Texas. Sentenced to five years probation and a $5,000 fine for making a false statement on a loan application.