Hopefully you all got what you wanted from Santa this year. But even if you haven’t, comfort yourself that there are 21 people in New York State who certainly have. However, their gifts weren’t given by a jolly old elf who came down their chimney. Governor Andrew Cuomo decided to play Santa Claus on Christmas Eve and handed out nearly two dozen pardons and sentence conversions. He posted the announcement on the official website of the governor of New York, along with an explanation of the crimes of each person and the effect of these gifts on them.
Let’s start with the pardons. There were fourteen in all, and they all had something in common. I’ll post the first few here and we’ll see if you can figure out the common thread.
Kaydian McKenzieThe 43-year-old was convicted of second-degree marijuana possession and third-degree criminal offenses in 2001 and 2002. Ms. McKenzie has been a crime free, nurse for 18 years, and works in a New York state nursing home during the public health crisis during the COVID-19 crisis. In addition to being a frontline worker, Ms. McKenzie is a mother of three and is active in her local church, where she volunteers for a program that provides groceries to elderly New Yorkers who live alone. An apology will help Ms. McKenzie stay in the United States with her family.
Rosario PenaThe 61-year-old was convicted of Petit Larceny and attempted second-degree robbery in 1981 and 1986. Ms. Pena was forced to commit these crimes by sex traffickers she was a victim of. After a childhood marked by abuse, homelessness and years of victimization by human traffickers, Ms. Pena has been free of crime for 34 years. A pardon allows Ms. Pena to remain in the United States, where she has lived for more than 50 years.
The next dozen follow the same format. Touching stories, each one. All of them appear to have recorded relatively minor crimes, many of which involve low-level drug possession, theft, or robbery. However, those aren’t exactly the things that get someone in enough trouble to need an apology. However, if you look at the last sentence of each of the fourteen paragraphs, you will find the same sentence. “Help (or allow) him to stay in the US …”
In other words, these are all illegal aliens who have been sentenced to deportation. In wiping out their records of other crimes beyond illegal immigration, Cuomo seeks to increase the chances that they will not return to their home countries, even though they all knowingly live illegally, some for more than half a century.
There were seven other names on Santa Cuomo’s nice (as opposed to naughty) list, and all of them got commutations for their sentences. Here are the first examples.
Maria OrdonezThe 26-year-old was convicted of first degree manslaughter in 2018. She has served six years after a nine-year prison sentence. Ms. Ordonez’s childhood was full of abuse and neglect. At the age of 20, she killed her abusive boyfriend during an incident in which he beat and choked her. While in detention, Ms. Ordonez received professional training, computer repair and college courses at Marymount Manhattan College. Your professors have praised their commitment to their studies. She has maintained a consistent work experience throughout her incarceration and has received positive work reports from supervisors. After her release, she plans to live with her mother and brother.
Theresa DeboThe 64-year-old was convicted of second degree murder in 2006. She served 16 years and 22 years in prison. As a child, Ms. Debo was removed from an abusive family environment and placed in foster families. She has cycled in and out of abusive relationships throughout her adult life, including a relationship with a victim of the crime for which she has been incarcerated for more than 16 years and which she killed in self-defense. Ms. Debo had no previous convictions. During her detention, Ms. Debo participated in numerous programs that address the effects of abuse. Ms. Debo has received certification as a hospice aid and has participated in several animal caretaker training programs, including puppy behind bars, as well as veterinary assistance, animal care and dog obedience training.
There is no evidence that any of the people in this group are in the country illegally, but they were clearly behind bars for a reason. In addition to the two in this excerpt, two others were convicted of murder. There was also a pretty big drug dealer and a couple of people who had gone down over robbery and some other crime. The pardon for the illegal aliens was done simply to thwart the immigration enforcement process that is perfect for Cuomo. But the commutations were for more serious criminals.
Hey, Christmas is the time of forgiveness and generosity, isn’t it? However, it should be remembered that every crime has one or more victims. In the case of murder in particular, we have to wonder how the families of these victims feel about this sudden outbreak of charity and why these prisoners have now failed to qualify for parole when they deserve early release so much that I’ve seen a lot have received complaints from some of our staff on the left this week about the pardons that the president has issued and there is certainly room to complain about some of them. As we work our way through the vacation, I wonder if the same people have something to say about this.