BOSTON (SHNS) – Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday recommended his second batch of pardons in two weeks, proposing forgiveness for three people for decades-old convictions including intent to distribute cocaine and stealing alcohol from a package store.
Baker also recommended a fourth pardon — full forgiveness for Thomas Schoolcraft, whom Gov. Deval Patrick and the Governor’s Council awarded a conditional pardon at the end of Patrick’s final term for a Plum Island break-in robbery.
The petitioners’ reasons for seeking clemency include citizenship and residency concerns and professional aspirations, according to reports provided by the governor’s office.
“These offenses all occurred many years ago, and since that time, all four individuals have committed themselves to bettering their lives and improving their communities,” Baker wrote after sending the pardons to the Governor’s Council, which votes on whether to place them into effect.
The council last week unanimously approved Baker’s first group of pardons, which had been sought by four individuals for convictions involving forged checks, larceny, and armed assault in a dwelling.
Marine Corps Corrections Chief Eyeing Post-Military Jobs
Christopher Nichols currently serves as head of corrections for the U.S. Marine Corps. He was a 19-year-old high school senior in 2002 when he joined some buddies in a night of heavy drinking.
All under the age of 21, they went in search of alcohol. Nichols attempted to swipe a case of beer from a Billerica store, but the box broke and he could only save two cans. They moved on to Westford, where he tried to break into one package store before gaining entry to another nearby shop where he stole a 12-pack, according to a report from the state Parole Board.
He pleaded guilty to nine charges including conspiracy to commit a crime, malicious destruction of property under $250, and larceny from a building. He served a probation term that was “relatively short,” “in order to ensure that he could attend bootcamp” for the Marine Corps, according to the report.
Nichols worked his way up in the Marine Corps in corrections positions, as a recruiter, and then as a Marine Corps parole officer in Washington, where he “maintain[ed] responsibility for all Marine Corps Prisoners who were being considered for parole or mandatory supervised release,” the Massachusetts Parole Board wrote.
He told the board that he wanted to clear the felonies from his record and be able to obtain a gun permit so that he can work in law enforcement after he retires from the military.
Twice Deported, Wants To Reunite With Family In Canada
Bertrand Lamitie told the Parole Board he is seeking a pardon for his intent to distribute cocaine conviction so that he can apply for Canadian citizenship and return from Haiti, where he was deported as a result of the conviction.
Lamitie was a Green Card holder when he was arrested in 2001 after two controlled purchases as part of a Cambridge and Somerville police investigation.
He said he started using alcohol and drugs after he was expelled from high school, resulting from what he said was a bogus accusation of smoking marijuana in the bathroom. It was a drug program in the Massachusetts correctional system that “quite possibly saved his life,” according to the report.
His journey following his Massachusetts jailtime included a 2003 deportation to Haiti, 2009 immigration to Canada where he was a security guard at McGill University, and marriage in 2013 to a woman he met in Canada. He was again deported to Haiti after applying for Canadian citizenship, which was denied because of his record in Massachusetts, the board wrote.
Lamitie “fears for his safety” because of “humanitarian turmoil in Haiti,” the Parole Board said, and wants to achieve Canadian citizenship so he can return to his wife and sons.
Built A Family In Massachusetts, Wants Legal Residency
Zaida Mirita Pimentel-Solano also cited residency concerns in seeking a pardon for her conviction for Class B substance distribution, saying she wishes to achieve legal residency.
She told the board she was unaware her boyfriend was dealing drugs while she was in the car with him on the night of the arrest in 1995.
“He told me that he would take me to work but he had to make a stop on the way,” she told the board.
She served a one-year suspended sentence after pleading guilty in Dorchester District Court.
Pimentel-Solano has since volunteered as a teacher’s assistant with a Head Start program. Originally from the Dominican Republic, she has four children here, and three grandchildren.
“Her wish is to become a legal resident of the United States. She stated that she thinks about her immigration status every day,” the Parole Board wrote, adding that she has been unable to accept job offers because of her immigration status.
Seeks Full Pardon To Open Up Job Options
Baker revisited one of Gov. Deval Patrick’s pardons, which came with a caveat when the Governor’s Council ultimately approved it, 5-3, in early 2015.
Patrick had altered Thomas Schoolcraft’s clemency bid by specifying that it would not make him eligible to obtain a firearms identification card.
Schoolcraft was 18 when he robbed homes in New Hampshire and Massachusetts in 2004, including theft from a Plum Island residence.
By 2015, he was studying for a graduate degree in criminal justice at Boston University and hoped to get a job in that field. But many of the corrections jobs he is interested in feature a firearms permit as a prerequisite, he told the board.
The Newburyport homeowner whose house Schoolcraft robbed, Lynn Mathers, testified in support of the pardon at a Parole Board hearing, called him “honest,” and said he had not committed “much of a crime.”
Governor’s Councilor Eileen Duff has been advocating for a second chance at Schoolcraft’s pardon and pressed the board’s then-chairwoman, Gloriann Moroney, this month on whether it would move the bid to Baker’s desk.
“I’m happy to see that it’s happening,” Duff said Wednesday. “To me, it’s a wrong that is being righted. And I think if Gov. Baker saw that it needed to be done, it’s pretty clear this needs to be done.”