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Gov. Tony Evers grants 18 pardons, 'largest group so far'

Posted at 9:03 AM, Jul 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-16 13:21:06-04

Gov. Tony Evers announced on Thursday that he is granting 18 pardons, the largest group so far.

The Governor's Pardon Advisory Board heard from applicants on June 23.

“A pardon won’t fix the challenges facing our criminal justice system, but it can have a tremendous impact on a person’s life,” said Evers in a statement. “Each of these people earned a pardon by serving their sentence and making positive contributions to society.”

A pardon restores some rights that are lost when someone is convicted of a felony, including the right to serve on a jury, hold public office and hold specific professional licenses.

People may apply for a pardon if they have completed their sentence at least five years prior, have not committed any new crimes and are not on the sex offender registry.

The following people were pardoned:

  • James Hernon, 59, was charged with assisting another individual in burglarizing a home 20 years ago in exchange. He now works with the Milwaukee Rescue Mission.
  • Steven Johnson, 58, was 23 when he caused a tragic car accident in which his best friend was killed. He has been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor and has asked for this pardon before dying.
  • Taranda Westmoreland, 45, made several unauthorized charges on a credit card when she was 26. She has since obtained a master’s degree and now works to serve others in need, including minors, folks with special needs, and persons experiencing homelessness.
  • Barry Plotnick, 65, was 21 years old and struggling with addiction when he and his friend broke into a drug store and stole several bottles of Valium. After completing his sentence, he went on to become a successful small business owner in the produce industry.
  • Loretta Childs, 38, was 22 years old when she knowingly wrote bad checks to obtain some items for resale.
  • Matthew Raasch, 41, was struggling with drug addiction when he cashed fraudulent checks to support his addiction. He now volunteers and works with Waukesha County inmates and drug and alcohol treatment courts.
  • Elandis Peete was 18 when he sold cocaine to an undercover police officer. Now in his forties, he opened his own trucking business, mentoring and hiring formerly incarcerated folks to help them become productive members of the community.
  • Shelesia Parham, 51, was 23 when she forged her mother’s name on multiple withdrawal slips for her mother’s account. She has become an owner of multiple newspapers in Racine and previously hosted a weekly gospel hour on local radio.
  • Kerry Brunner, 59, was in his early twenties when he was convicted of several offenses connected to drug addiction, including the delivery of cocaine and cashing a stolen check. He has been a small business owner, and is currently working in his local school district as a custodian.
  • Keith Butler, 40, was 23 and homeless when he was caught selling drugs to undercover police officers.
  • Markeese Walker, 40, was 22 when he was convicted of fleeing an officer. He has since become an active community member and volunteer, who received adamant support from many, including a former Milwaukee law enforcement officer.
  • Andrew Ophoven was arrested by three plain-clothed detectives for selling marijuana 20 years ago. He has since gone to school for culinary arts and hospitality management.
  • Michael Andersen, 40, sold marijuana and shoplifted 20 years ago. He has obtained associate degrees in marketing and business.
  • Yusef Moore, 49, was convicted of several offenses relating to his addiction to drugs in his early thirties. He has taken remarkable steps including obtaining a master’s degree from Loyola University of Chicago, helping others struggling with addiction by becoming a substance abuse residential counselor, and working with persons experiencing homelessness.
  • Terry Howell-Dixon, 65, nearly 30 years ago failed to report an increase in income which resulted in an over-grant of public assistance and food stamps.
  • LaFondra Thomas was 19 when she committed a series of check forgeries. She since obtained her HSED and worked for the same company, AT&T, for 21 years. Ms. Thomas now lives in the State of Texas.
  • Sonny Valeriano, 34, was 20 years old and struggling with a death in the family when he decided to sell marijuana for some quick cash. He began his pursuit of higher education while still in confinement and has since pursued multiple degrees to become a massage therapist.
  • Richard Baker, 39, made a series of mistakes as a young man that resulted in several convictions including bail jumping, obstructing an officer, and escape. He credits his turn to religion as the reason for his reform.

To learn more about the pardon process, click here.

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