Gov. Andrew Cuomo granted three pardons today, including to a Putnam County man, the first ones of his administration.
The pardons give clemency to three New Yorkers who have completed their sentences, but whose legal status and rights were hampered by their criminal records, Cuomo said.
The other two went to a Manhattan man and one from near Utica.
“Today, I am granting pardons to three individuals whose records make a compelling case for justice being best served through clemency,” Cuomo said in a statement. “These New Yorkers have paid their debt to society long ago, but have been prevented from having the same legal rights as others because of their past crimes. Each has shown themselves to be law-abiding citizens who have contributed to society, given back to their communities and are deserving of a second chance.”
Cuomo has been criticized for not issuing any pardons since he took office in 2011. Governors typically issue some each year.
Gerardo Alvarez, 49, of Lake Peekskill, Putnam County, was pardoned as the result of a 2002 conviction for seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance in Manhattan.
Cuomo said in a statement that the charge stemmed from a traffic stop with a co-worker, where cocaine was found in the car. Alvarez was sentenced to three days of community service and a six-month suspension of his driver’s license after pleading guilty.
But although he was a permanent resident, Alvarez, who was born in Mexico, was detained for several months in 2010 upon trying to reenter the country after a vacation with his wife. Deportation procedures were started, but the case was ultimately resolved in July 2013.
Alvarez has lived in the U.S. since 1980, has been married to a U.S. citizen since 1986 and has two children attending college. Cuomo said. The pardon is expected to pave the way for him to become a U.S. citizen.
Another pardon went to Seymour Hunter, 70, of Manhattan, who was convicted in 1994 in Brooklyn of third-degree attempted sale of a controlled substance. Hunter was sentenced to a day in jail and five years’ probation. Hunter was born in Jamaica, has been a permanent U.S. resident for 44 years and seeks to become a U.S. citizen, Cuomo said.
The third pardon went to Rocco Paciello, 49, of Clinton, Oneida County, who was convicted in 1988 of third-degree statutory rape. He was 22 at the time, and the complaint was made by the parents of his then 15-year-old girlfriend, whom he was dating with her parents’ consent, Cuomo’s press release said.
Paciello received an eight-day jail sentenced and five years probation. He later married the girlfriend, and they’ve been together for 21 years, the state said.
He retired as an full-time active duty soldier in the National Guard in 2007. Paciello’s in-laws wrote letters is support of his pardon, Cuomo said, and expressed regret about filing the original charges.