President George W. Bush has granted pardons to 14 individuals, including a Texas woman sentenced in 1998 for her part in an insurance fraud scheme.
Brenda Jean Dolenz-Helmer of Fort Worth, Texas, was convicted of concealing knowledge of a crime. Dolenz-Helmer, the daughter of a Dallas doctor accused of medical insurance fraud, was convicted in connection with the doctor’s case. She was sentenced Dec. 31, 1998, in the Northern District of Texas to four year’s probation with the special condition of 600 hours of community service and a $10,000 fine.
The new round of White House pardons announced Nov. 24 are Bush’s first since March and come less than two months before he will end his presidency. The crimes committed by those on the list also include offenses involving hazardous waste, food stamps, and the theft of government property.
Bush has been stingy during his time in office about granting clemency, but more grants are expected.
Including these actions, he has granted a total of 171 pardons and eight commutations. That’s less than half as many as Presidents Clinton or Reagan issued during their time in office. Both were two-term presidents, like Bush.
Others from South Central states on the latest pardon list were:
–William Hoyle McCright Jr. of Midland, Texas, who was convicted of bank fraud.
–Paul Julian McCurdy of Sulphur, Okla., who was sentenced for misapplication of bank funds.
— Daniel Figh Pue III of Conroe, Texas, convicted of illegal treatment, storage and disposal of a hazardous waste without a permit.
–Orion Lynn Vick of White Hall, Ark., who was convicted of aiding and abetting the theft of government property.
Some high-profile individuals, such as Michael Milken, are seeking a pardon on securities fraud charges. Two politicians convicted of public corruption – former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, R-Calif., and four-term Democratic Louisiana Gov. Edwin W. Edwards – are asking Bush to shorten their prison terms.
One hot topic of discussion related to pardons is whether Bush might decide to issue pre-emptive pardons before he leaves office to government employees who authorized or engaged in harsh interrogations of suspected terrorists in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Some constitutional scholars and human rights groups want the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama to investigate possible war crimes.
If Bush were to pardon anyone involved, it would provide protection against criminal charges, particularly for people who were following orders or trying to protect the nation with their actions. But it would also be highly controversial.
At the same time, Obama advisers say there is little – if any – chance that his administration would bring criminal charges
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