Trump Grants Clemency to Former NYPD Boss Bernie Kerik, Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevic, and 9 Others

Emma Tucker, Rachel Olding
Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

President Trump on Tuesday granted clemency to 11 people including two reality TV stars, a former New York City police commissioner, and the former owner of the San Francisco 49ers.

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, drug offenders Tynice Nicole Hall and Crytal Munoz, and white collar criminal Judith Negron had their sentences commuted by Trump, the White House announced. Seven others received full pardons, including insider trading offender Michael Milkin, Republican lobbyist David Safavian, former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard B. Kerik and Angela Stanton, a relative of Martin Luther King Jr. who was convicted over her part in a stolen car ring.

Blagojevich was convicted of seeking to solicit money for an appointment to former President Obama’s vacant Senate seat after he was elected in 2008. A Democrat who became known as “Blago,” he was due to be released in 2024. He appeared on NBC’s The Apprentice in 2009 when Trump hosted the reality TV show.

“He served eight years in jail, it’s a long time,” Trump told reporters Tuesday, adding that he had watched Blagojevich’s wife on television. “He seems like a very nice person, don’t know him.”

Four prosecutors who tried Blagojevich said in a statement on Tuesday that independent judges in an appeals court and the Supreme Court had upheld his conviction for extorting the CEO of a children’s hospital and lying to the FBI.

“Mr. Blagojevich remains a felon, convicted of multiple serious acts of corruption as governor,” the prosecutors said.

Former Governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich was sentenced to prison for corruption offenses.

Jeff Haynes/Reuters

Blagojevich’s brother, Rob, told the Chicago Sun-Times he was “forever grateful to President Trump, who is the nation’s ultimate disrupter, for commuting my brother’s sentence. President Trump is just what the nation needs.”

Eddie DeBartolo Jr., the former owner of the San Francisco 49ers who was convicted in a gambling fraud scandal, was granted a pardon. He was involved in a 1998 corruption and gambling fraud case against former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards.

He’s also been accused of sexual assault and reportedly paid $200,000 to settle the claims out of court. 

“He’s the main reason why we won so many Super Bowls,” former 49ers player and NFL Hall of Fame inductee Jerry Rice said Tuesday outside the White House. “So today is a great day for him.”

Kerik, a frequent Fox News commentator on law and order issues, was given a four-year prison sentence in 2010 after pleading guilty to eight felony charges, including tax fraud and lying to White House officials. He served as the NYPD commissioner from 1998 to 2002, a tenure that included the 9/11 terror attacks. In a separate case in 2006, he pleaded guilty to accepting tens of thousands of dollars while working as city corrections commissioner—he agreed to pay $221,000 in fines and avoided jail.

Stanton, an author and reality TV star whose godmother is Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece, spent 10 years in prison for her part in a stolen car racket.

She reportedly helped her godmother Alveda King compile a list of more than 90 names, all federal inmates seeking clemency, to take to President Trump after she was invited to a meeting at the White House in 2018.

Stanton wrote a book, Lies of a Real Housewife, and was a cast member on the reality show From the Bottom Up.

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Former Bush administration official David Safavian was found guilty of covering up his dealings with lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Among the other pardon recipients were Republican lobbyist David Safavian, who was convicted of lying during the Jack Abramoff corruption scandal, financier Mike Milken, who was given a 10-year prison sentence for insider trading, and Ariel Friedler, a former government software contractor convicted of hacking into a competitor’s computer network.

The White House described Milken as “one of America’s greatest financiers” and Friedler as a successful tech entrepreneur who was “forced to sell the company that he had dedicated his life to building” after his offending, which he has expressed remorse over.

Safavian was “uniquely positioned to identify problems with the criminal justice system and work to fix them,” the White House said, adding that Safavian advocated for the First Step Act, President Trump’s signature prison reform bill.

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