Late Tuesday afternoon, the Governor announced he's granted clemency to three New Yorkers who have completed their sentences, but whose legal status and rights were hampered by their criminal records. "Today, I am granting pardons to three individuals whose records make a compelling case for justice being best served through clemency," Governor Cuomo said. "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. These are the first pardons Governor Cuomo has granted during his tenure.
Rocco Paciello, 49, of Clinton, Oneida County, was convicted in 1988 of third-degree statutory rape. According to the Governor's news release, the charge against Paciello, then 22, stemmed from a complaint made by the parents of his then 15 year-old girlfriend, whom he was dating with her parents' consent. He was sentenced to eight days in jail and 5 years' probation.
Following his early release from probation, Paciello married his girlfriend, and have remained married for 21 years. In 1987, he joined the National Guard and later became a full-time active duty soldier, which he remained until his retirement in 2007. He has been active in his community and his church, and is currently a college honors student. His petition for a pardon came with letters of support from both of his in-laws, who expressed great regret about filing the original charges, his wife, their two children, ages 18 and 25, his pastor, his sister-in-law, friends, and colleagues from the National Guard.
The other people who were granted clemency are:
Seymour Hunter, 70, of Manhattan, was convicted in 1994 in Kings County of third-degree attempted sale of a controlled substance. Hunter was homeless and battling a substance addiction. He was sentenced to a day in jail and five years' probation. Hunter entered a rehabilitation program. He successfully completed the program and his probation, and, for the last 12 years, he has been working for a non-profit organization that seeks to eliminate homelessness, where he is an administrator at a building that provides housing for the elderly, low income professionals, and those battling HIV and AIDS.
Gerardo Alvarez, 49, of Lake Peekskill, was convicted in 2002 of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance in New York County. 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. Although a lawful permanent resident, Alvarez was detained for several months in 2010 upon trying to reenter the United States after a vacation with his wife and was subjected to deportation procedures. The case was ultimately resolved without deportation in July 2013. Alvarez was born in Mexico and has been living in the United States since 1980. He has been married to a U.S. citizen since 1986, and has two children attending college.