WASHINGTON, Dec. 21, 2006 -- Four days before Christmas, President Bush granted pardons to 16 people, including a man convicted of dealing methamphetamine and another who, along with his family, donated to the Republican National Committee and the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign.
Of the 16 pardons, six were for people convicted of minor drug violations, six were for people convicted of making false statements on bank or money loans. The other pardons involved a conspiracy case to defraud the government, a false statement case, a kickback conviction and an alcohol tax violation charge dating to 1969.
Including the 16 pardons today, Bush has issued 113 pardons and three clemency requests during his presidency.
Phillip Anthony Emmert, the only one of the 16 pardoned today who is currently in jail, was convicted of distributing methamphetamine but will have that sentence commuted.
The other 15 will have their records expunged and have certain rights restored, such as the right to vote.
Presidential pardons have drawn renewed scrutiny since President Clinton pardoned financier Marc Rich in 2001. Rich had fled the United States in 1983 to avoid prosecution by the government on tax-evasion charges.
Outrage over the case came to light when it was revealed that his wife, Denise Rich, had contributed money to the Democratic National Committee and Clinton's presidential library.
Campaign Contributor Pardoned
According to a Federal Election Commission record search conducted by ABC News, one of the 16 people in the presidential pardons announced today by the Justice Department has donated money to the Republican National Committee and the Bush campaign.
Dale C. Critz Jr. was convicted in 1989 of making false statements in a case. He never served time but was given three years probation for his offense.
He and members of his immediate family have made donations to Republican candidates and the RNC. On April 7, 2003, Critz donated $500 to the RNC and on Sept. 30, 2003, his father, Dale C. Critz, donated $2,000 to the Bush-Cheney campaign.
"The Department of Justice conducts a thorough review of each clemency case but does not consider campaign contributions relevant to the analysis," Justice Department spokeswoman Kathleen Blomquist said.
Calls by ABC News to Critz and his lawyer, John Hogan of Miami, were not returned Thursday.
Small-Time Drug Dealer to Go Free
Emmert, the only man who will be released from prison in this round of pardons, was described by an attorney with knowledge of his case as a small-time drug dealer who funded his habit by selling methamphetamine to friends.
He was arrested in 1992 in a drug sting and faced trial with two other individuals that he did not know, according to a summary of his clemency petition.
Emmert began serving his sentence in December 1992 and was not due to be released until 2011. Several factors contributed to the commutation by the president, including the fact that Emmert's wife was paralyzed from the waist down in a car accident in 1994.
Although he won't go free in time for the holidays, he is now set to be released on Jan. 20, 2007. The extra time is needed make sure that his post-release plans are secured and supervised, according to a Justice department official.
Emmert was represented pro bono in the case by the Washington law firm Crowell & Moring.
Among the high-profile presidential pardons over the years have been President Ford's 1975 pardon of Richard Nixon after the Watergate scandal, President Reagan's pardon of FBI agents Mark Felt and Edward Miller for authorizing illegal searches. Felt would later be revealed as Bob Woodward's source "Deep Throat," who helped unravel the breadth of the Watergate Scandal. President George H.W. Bush also was criticized in 1992 for pardoning six people convicted in the Iran-Contra scandal.
A List of Today's Pardons
Charles James Allen Winchester, Virginia Offense: Conspiracy to defraud the United States; 18 U.S.C. § 371
Sentence: Aug. 3, 1979; District of Maryland; one year of custody to be served by 30 days in jail, 90 days in a work-release program, and the remaining period on parole
William Sidney Baldwin, Sr. Green Pond, South Carolina Offense: Conspiracy to possess marijuana; 21 U.S.C. § 846
Sentence: Oct. 27, 1981; District of South Carolina; six years' imprisonment
Timothy Evans Barfield Cary, North Carolina Offense: Aiding and abetting false statements on a Small Business Administration loan application; 15 U.S.C. § 645(a) and 18 U.S.C. § 2
Sentence: July 17, 1989; Eastern District of North Carolina; three years' probation, including 96 hours of community service
Clyde Philip Boudreaux Thibodaux, Louisiana Offense: Borrowing money from enlisted men, accepting a non-interest bearing loan from a government contractor, and signing and swearing to a false affidavit; U.C.M.J. Articles 92, 107, 134
Sentence: Dec. 2, 1975; as approved by the convening authority on January 29, 1976; United States Navy general court-martial convened at Okinawa, Japan, and Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; reprimand; loss of numbers on the promotion list; and a $1,000 fine
Marie Georgette Ginette Briere Gatineau, Quebec Offense: Possession of cocaine with intent to distribute; 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1)
Sentence: July 9, 1982; District of Puerto Rico; three years' imprisonment and three years' special parole
Dale C. Critz, Jr. Savannah, Georgia Offense: Making a false statement; 18 U.S.C. § 1014
Sentence: July 13, 1989; Middle District of Florida; three years' probation
Mark Alan Eberwine San Antonio, Texas Offense: Conspiracy to defraud the United States by impeding, impairing, and obstructing the assessment of taxes by the Internal Revenue Service; 18 U.S.C. § 371; false declarations to the grand jury; 18 U.S.C. § 1623
Sentence: Feb. 1, 1985, as amended April 23, 1986; Western District of Texas; two years' imprisonment
Colin Earl Francis Naugatuck, Connecticut Offense: Accepting a kickback; 41 U.S.C. §§ 53 and 54
Sentence: May 7, 1993; District of Connecticut; two years' probation and a $2,500 fine
George Thomas Harley Albuquerque, New Mexico Offense: Aiding and abetting the distribution of cocaine; 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), 18 U.S.C. § 2
Sentence: Nov. 30, 1984; District of New Mexico; nine years' imprisonment; five years' special parole
Patricia Ann Hultman Kane, Pennsylvania Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute cocaine and other controlled substances; 21 U.S.C. § 846
Sentence: Oct. 28, 1985; Western District of Pennsylvania; one year of imprisonment
Eric William Olson Ojai, California Offense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, possession with intent to distribute, possession, and use of hashish; U.C.M.J. Articles 81 and 134
Sentence: Feb. 21, 1984; United States Army general court-martial convened at Bamberg, Germany; confinement at hard labor for one year; reduction to pay grade E-1; forfeiture of all pay and allowances; bad conduct discharge
Thomas R. Reece Cumming, Georgia Offense: Violating the Internal Revenue Code pertaining to alcohol; 26 U.S.C. § 5681(c)
Sentence: May 2, 1969; Northern District of Georgia; one year's imprisonment
Larry Gene Ross Indio, California Offense: Making false statements in a bank loan application; 18 U.S.C. § 1014
Sentence: Aug. 15, 1989; District of Wyoming; four years' probation, $7,654.20 restitution
Jearld David Swanner Lexington, Oklahoma Offense: Making false statements in a bank loan application; 18 U.S.C. § 1005
Sentence: Dec. 6, 1991; Western District of Oklahoma; three years' probation
James Walter Taylor McCrory, Arkansas Offense: Bank fraud; 18 U.S.C. § 1344
Sentence: Oct. 18, 1991; Eastern District of Arkansas; 90 days in jail, followed by two years and nine months' probation
Janet Theone Upton Salinas, California Offense: Mail fraud; 18 U.S.C. § 1341
Sentence: May 23, 1975; District of Nevada; two years' unsupervised probation
Phillip Anthony Emmert Washington, Iowa Offense: Conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, 21 U.S.C. § 846
Sentence: Dec. 23, 1992; Southern District of Iowa; 262 months' imprisonment (as reduced on February 21, 1996); five years' supervised release
Terms of commutation: Sentence of imprisonment to expire on Jan. 20, 2007; term of supervised release left intact and in effect