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Immaculate Conception at night by Vincent Embser

Governor Hochul pardons and commutes over a dozen criminal convictions

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Read the details and backstory behind each act of clemency

Following recommendations from the Clemency Advisory Panel, Governor Hochul is commuting the sentences of four individuals, two of whom will be referred to the parole board and granting pardons to nine individuals with strong ties to the United States who are facing immigration consequences as a result of convictions that are at least a decade old.

Pardons

Amir Shaaban, 45, has lived a crime free life for 14 years and operates a small business with his brother. He is married to a U.S. citizen and is a caretaker to his mother and mother-in-law, both of whom are also U.S. citizens. He moved to the United States as a child and has lived here for more than 30 years. Mr. Shaaban was convicted of Attempted Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree in 2008. A pardon will help Mr. Shaaban remain in the United States with his family.

Denise Shelly-Ann Carter, 46, has lived a crime free life for 23 years, works as a home health aide, and is an active member of her local church. She has lived in the United States for more than 30 years. She was convicted of Attempted Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree, Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree, and Criminal Facilitation in the Fourth Degree in 1999. A pardon will help Ms. Carter remain in the United States, where she has lived most of her life.

Brenda Gordillo Plaza, 57, has lived a crime free life for 17 years and is working to complete a hairdressing and cosmetology program, with a goal of establishing her own salon in the future. She has lived in the United States for more than 35 years. She was convicted of four counts of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fifth Degree and two counts of Petit Larceny between 1992 and 2005. A pardon will help Ms. Gordillo avoid deportation and remain in the United States.

Franklin Barcacel, 54, has lived a crime free life for 23 years and is an active member of his local community, volunteering for translation and food distribution programs at local community centers and actively participating in his local church. Mr. Barcacel moved to the United States as a child, has lived here for more than 40 years, and has five children and a grandchild who are all U.S. citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents. Mr. Barcacel was convicted of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fourth Degree and Tampering With Witness in the Second Degree in 1999. A pardon will help him avoid deportation and remain in the United States with his family.

Paul Antoine, 39, has lived a crime free life for 14 years. Mr. Antoine came to the United States when he was six years old and lived here for more than 20 years before being deported in 2010 due to his sole conviction for Attempted Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree in 2008. His mother is a U.S. citizen and continues to live in the United States. A pardon will help Mr. Antoine return to help care for his aging mother.

Paola Jovana Espinosa Yunda, 47, has lived a crime free life for 19 years. She has lived in the United States for more than 25 years and is the mother of two U.S. citizen children, one of whom is six years old. She was convicted of two counts of Criminal Possession of Marijuana in the First Degree in 2003. A pardon will help Ms. Espinosa remain in the United States with her children and extended family.

Lesly Parfait, 52, has lived a crime free life for 17 years and is employed as a concrete worker. He is active in his local union and has volunteered to teach construction skills to youth in his community. He is married to a U.S. citizen and has two children, four stepchildren, and seven grandchildren, all of whom are U.S. citizens. He is the primary earner and important source of support for his family. Mr. Parfait was convicted of Robbery in the Third Degree in 2005. He came to the United States at age 5 and has lived here for more than 45 years. A pardon will help him avoid deportation and remain in the United States with his family.

Andres Paulino Castro, 52, has lived a crime free life for 17 years. He is married to a U.S. citizen and has three U.S. citizen children. He and his wife operate two small businesses in the Bronx and are active members of their local church community. Mr. Paulino Castro was convicted of Attempted Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree in 2005. He has lived in the United States for more than 20 years, and a pardon would help him avoid deportation and remain here with his family.

Kurt Hawkins, 54, has lived a crime free life for 31 years and worked for more than a decade at a local public works department. He has two children, two stepchildren, and a grandchild who are all U.S. citizens, including a daughter who serves in the U.S. Army. Mr. Hawkins was convicted of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Fifth Degree and Petit Larceny in 1991. A pardon will help him pursue naturalization to become a United States citizen.

Commutations

Jacqueline Smalls, 60, was convicted of Manslaughter in the First Degree, two counts of Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree, and two counts of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree in 2013. Ms. Smalls is a survivor of domestic violence, having experienced several relationships in which she was subjected to physical, emotional, and financial abuse. Her present conviction stems from an incident in which her abuser entered her home in violation of two active orders of protection. This followed similar incidents in the months prior that resulted in Ms. Smalls’ abuser choking and assaulting her, and thus fearing for her life, Ms. Smalls stabbed him once in the chest. She was sentenced to 15 years in prison and has served more than 10 years. While incarcerated, she has worked toward her GED and completed domestic violence programs. Upon release, Ms. Smalls will be reunited with her daughter.

Anthony Evans, 56, was convicted of Burglary in the Second Degree in 2004. He has served nearly 19 years of a 22-year to life sentence. At a young age, Mr. Evans was exposed to crime and substance abuse, and his family was greatly impacted by steel mill closures and deindustrialization in the Buffalo area. During nearly two decades of incarceration, he has earned his GED, become active in his religious community, rebuilt ties with family, and helped counsel other incarcerated individuals working to earn and maintain their sobriety. He has not had a disciplinary infraction in more than 15 years. Upon release, Mr. Evans will live with his wife and has a job offer at a commercial real estate business.

Bruce Bryant, 53, was convicted of Murder in the Second Degree, Attempted Murder in the Second Degree, and Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree in 1996. He was 23 years old at the time of the crime and has served more than 30 years out of a 37.5-year to life sentence. During his three decades of incarceration, Mr. Bryant has earned an Associate’s Degree and Bachelor’s Degree, and recently earned a certification through an entrepreneurial training program. Mr. Bryant also facilitates anti-violence workshops and co-founded the Civic Duty Initiative, a program that has raised money for gun buy-backs, donated books to local communities, and raised money to provide children with backpacks and other charitable causes. He has also worked with a nonprofit organization to establish a mentoring program aimed at preventing youth violence and has also completed and facilitated numerous workshops aimed at self-development, including a focus on programs assisting children of incarcerated parents. Under his original sentence, Mr. Bryant would not see the Board of Parole until 2029. His sentence is being commuted to allow him an earlier opportunity to appear before the Parole Board so that the board can make a determination about whether he is suitable for parole.

Stanley Bellamy, 60, was convicted of Murder in the Second Degree, Attempted Murder in the Second Degree, and Robbery in the First Degree in 1987. He was 23 years old at the time of the crime and has served more than 37 years out of a 62-and-a-half-year to life sentence. During his nearly four decades of incarceration, Mr. Bellamy has earned his GED, Associate’s Degree, and Bachelor’s Degree, and has worked for years as a teaching assistant for Adult Basic Education and Pre-College courses for other incarcerated individuals. He also led a computer literacy program for incarcerated individuals, and helped launch a mentoring program aimed at teaching others about entrepreneurship. He served for years as the lead organizer of an annual anti-violence seminar at Sullivan Correctional Facility, and was a co-founder of the Civic Duty Initiative, a program that has raised money for gun buy-backs, donated books to local communities, and raised money to provide children with backpacks and other charitable causes. While incarcerated, Mr. Bellamy has earned recognition as a leader and mentor, and has developed and facilitated a wide range of programming on topics like conflict resolution, anger management, self-development, and personal responsibility. He has earned over 70 certificates, awards, and other forms of recognition for his accomplishments and contributions to others during his period of incarceration. Under his original sentence, Mr. Bellamy would not see the Board of Parole until 2048, when he would be 85 years old. His sentence is being commuted to allow him an earlier opportunity to appear before the Parole Board so that the board can make a determination about whether he is suitable for parole.

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