Albany, NY – Disgraced New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued five pardons and commuted five sentences on Tuesday with less than a week left before his resignation goes into effect.
Cuomo offered his resignation one week after a report released by New York Attorney General Letitia James determined that the governor had sexually harassed at least 11 women, including a state trooper.
The governor pardoned people on Aug. 17 who had been convicted of attempted robbery, drug crimes, bail jumping, and assault, FOX News reported.
He also commuted the sentences of two convicted murderers, including Jon-Adrian Velasquez, who killed a retired New York Police Department (NYPD) officer in 1998.
“One of the foundational promises of New York State is that of equal justice, and equal compassion, for all under the law,” Cuomo said when he announced the pardons, according to FOX News.
“Today I’m proud to help fulfill government’s unique responsibility to harness the power of redemption, encourage those who have made mistakes to engage in meaningful rehabilitation, and empower everyone to work toward a better future for themselves and their families,” the governor continued.
“These ten clemencies are another step on the long march towards a more fair, more just, more equitable, and more empathetic New York,” he said. “I thank all the volunteer attorneys representing clemency applicants for their dedication and service to the cause of justice and rehabilitation.”
Velasquez was convicted in 1999 of the murder of retired NYPD Officer Albert Ward at an illegal betting parlor in Harlem, NBC News reported.
Two armed men came into the place and announced a robbery.
They started duct taping people and a struggle ensued, NBC News reported.
Retired Officer Ward was shot in the head during the chaos.
Velasquez has served 23-and-a-half years of his 25 years-to-life prison sentence, WKBW reported.
Cuomo also commuted the sentence of Richard “Lee” Chalk, who supplied the guns and drove the getaway car for “The Brooklyn Six,” who murdered two people in the process of robbing a drug dealer’s stash house on March 9, 1988, Gothamist reported.
Chalk was convicted of robbery and second-degree murder and sentenced to 71-and-two-thirds years in prison for his role in the crime, which makes him eligible for parole when he is 101 years old.
Cuomo granted clemency to two of Chalk’s accomplices last year, Gothamist reported.
Nehru Gumbs was also a beneficiary of a commutation from the exiting governor, WKBW reported.
Gumbs fatally shot 25-year-old nurse’s aide Tralane Walker as he walked home from church with relatives at about 1 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2004, the New York Post reported at the time.
It turned out that Gumbs was trying to shoot a romantic rival and had shot an innocent bystander in the process.
He was convicted of manslaughter, criminal weapons possession, and assault and sentenced to 25 years in prison, WKBW reported.
Gumbs has served 17-and-a-half years in prison.
Cuomo also commuted the sentences of convicted burglar George Martinez and convicted armed robber Dontie Mitchell, WKBW reported.
The soon-to-be-former governor also pardoned five people on Aug. 17.
He pardoned James Pamphile, who was convicted of bail jumping, assault, and attempted assault, WKBW reported.
Cuomo’s pardon will make it possible for him to stay in the United States.
Ivelisse Castillo, who was convicted on drug charges in 2001, also received a pardon after remaining “crime-free” for the last 19 years.
Cuomo pardoned Jorge Quinones, a cybersecurity computer science engineer, who was convicted in 1996 for attempting to sell drugs, WKBW reported.
He also pardoned Miriam Ordonez, who was convicted of attempting to sell drugs when she worked at a coffee shop run by a drug dealer who took advantage of undocumented immigrant children.
Finally, the governor pardoned Catherine Valdez, who at 16 was convicted of attempted robbery, WKBW reported.
There has been speculation the Cuomo may pardon himself before his resignation takes effect, FOX News reported.
Former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Andrew McCarthy said New York law doesn’t prevent the governor from issuing a self-pardon.
“I don’t believe Cuomo would pardon himself, because the groping crime he’s under investigation for in the Commission complaint is (a) considered a misdemeanor and not very serious (i.e., it’s not considered felony sexual assault), and (b) he has vigorously denied the allegation and a pardon would be tantamount to a confession of guilt,” McCarthy explained.