NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/CBS News) — President Donald Trump said Tuesday he has issued a pardon for former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik and commuted the sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Kerik spent three years at a federal minimum-security prison for tax fraud and making a false statement on a loan application. The charges stemmed from allegations that he knowingly paid only $30,000 for renovations on his home worth between $165,000 and $255,000 while a city official.
He pleaded guilty in late 2009 to charges that also included lying to the White House while he was being vetted for the Homeland Security post in 2004.
He served as a sheriff’s officer and then warden at the Passaic County Jail before joining the NYPD in 1986.
After being released from prison in May 2013, Kerik called for reforms to federal mandatory sentencing guidelines.
A protege of former Mayor Rudolph Giulani, Kerik had been nominated to the post after he was declared a hero for his work as commissioner after the 2001 terrorist attacks.
Kerik, who oversaw the NYPD’s response to the 9/11 attacks, pleaded guilty to federal charges of tax fraud and lying to investigators in 2009 and was sentenced to four years in prison.
Blagojevich was convicted of attempting to sell former President Barack Obama’s Senate seat and began serving a 14-year federal prison sentence in 2012.
“We have commuted the sentence of Rod Blagojevich,” the president said before boarding Air Force One for a trip out West. “He served eight years in jail, a long time … Many people disagreed with the sentence. He’s a Democrat, not a Republican.”
The move came shortly after the president pardoned billionaire Edward DeBartolo Jr., the former owner of the San Francisco 49ers who pleaded guilty to corruption-related charges in 1998. Trump said he hasn’t “given it any thought” when asked if he will pardon Roger Stone, who faces sentencing this week.
Blagojevich starred in Mr. Trump’s “Apprentice” reality television show. The president, who ran on a campaign of law and order, had hinted about a possible pardon for him in the past.
“Rod Blagojevich, the former Governor of Illinois, was sentenced to 14 years in prison. He has served 7 years. Many people have asked that I study the possibility of commuting his sentence in that it was a very severe one. White House staff is continuing the review of this matter,” the president tweeted in April 2019.
In addition, the president pardoned insider trader Michael Milken, known as the “Junk Bond King” of the 1980s.
“With all his research on cancer, he suffered greatly. He paid a big price,” Trump said.
The president says he hadn’t given any thought to pardon former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn, who has asked to withdraw his guilty plea, and Roger Stone, who will be sentenced in two days.
“I think Roger Stone’s been treated unfairly. I think General Flynn has been treated very unfairly. I think a lot of people have been treated unfairly,” Trump said.
Blagojevich was released from a prison in Colorado on Tuesday night. His family says they will hold what they call a homecoming press conference on Wednesday.
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