Peter MacDonald

MacDonald was chairman of the Navajo. He was convicted in both tribal court and US Federal court for many different criminals.

Most notable was a fraud conviction for his involvement in a deal for a piece of land known as the Big Boquillas ranch. Before the Boquillas transaction, the Navajo and the Hopi were disputing a piece of land in Arizona. Boquillas was huge. If MacDonald purchased Boquillas for the Navajo, he wouldn’t have to worry if he lost the fight with the Hopi over the disputed lands. The argument justified the transaction.

The dispute is how he purchased the lands. At 9:50 a.m. on July 15, 1989, Tom Tracy and Bud Brown bought Big Boquillas for $26.2 million. At 9:55 a.m., on the same day, MacDonald bought the same land from Tracy and Brown for $33.4 million.

Later that year, MacDonald, who made $55k a year, was seen driving a new beamer.

At MacDonald’s trial in federal court, Brown testified that MacDonald was in on the deal. MacDonald was accused of accepting bribes and kickbacks. MacDonald was convicted.

MacDonald was convicted in tribal court too. He was given a pardon under Navajo law under a theory of hozhonji, which means the Beauty Way; to forgive.

Clinton pardoned many folks on his last day in office–that day in American history is notable on its own. At the urging of U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, MacDonald was on Clinton’s last day list.

Peter MacDonald Navajo

Peter MacDonald - Chairman of the Navajo 1970, 1974, 1978, 1986


Jimmy Hoffa

In 1964, Hoffa was convicted of bribing a grand juror and received a sentence of 15 years in jail. He appealed. His appeals ran out. In 1967 he was incarcerated. At the time of his conviction he was the president of the teamsters. He handed over the reigns of the teamsters to a Frank Fitzsimmons.

In 1971, Hoffa was given a conditional commutation by Nixon. The condition was that Hoffa not be involved in the teamsters and not be involved with unions for a period of ten years following his release from custody. Hoffa was unhappy with the condition and planned to challenge the condition of the commutation in court.

Before Hoffa got could start his challenge of the condition from Nixon, he went missing in 1975 in Michigan.

Jimmy Hoffa

Jimmy Hoffa at Home

Peter Yarrow

Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary, and singer and songwriter of Puff the Magic Dragon, had an indiscretion with a 14 year old groupie. He served three months in jail. Carter pardoned him.

This pardon is noteworthy because Yarrow is an unmatched philanthropist. Yarrow has donated countless hours, ideas and his own money to various charities around the world. He started a program to educate young people not just on academics but how to act in society.

Often, potential clients ask us about their “chances” at getting a federal presidential pardon, and I often question them on their charitable givings of time and money because, I believe that these activities truly increase your chances for pardon consideration. Obviously, sex crimes are difficult cases, let alone pardons, but make no mistake that Yarrow’s charitable acts had an effect on his pardon.


Moving by Peter, Paul and Mary.

Marc Rich

Marc Rich was an oil commodities trader who made his money in the 1970s and early 1980s. In the 1980s he allegedly traded with Iran while Iran still had American hostages. In 1983, he was indicted by Untied States Attorney and future New York City mayor, Rudolph Giuliani for tax fraud under RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act).

Rich fled to Switzerland. Subsequent to his flight, the United States Attorneys office stopped prosecuting tax cases based on a RICO theory and instead pursued the claims through civil remedies. Rich’s ex-wife made contributions to Bill Clinton’s presidential library. Rich made substantial contributions to Israeli charities.

Many pundits criticized Clinton saying this was a pardon for pay. Clinton responded that he consulted with tax professors Martin Ginsburg of Georgetown University Law Center and Bernard Wolfman of the Harvard Law School and concluded that Rich did not have a criminal intent in his actions (i.e. no mens rea).

The irony is that Rich’s lawyer was I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby. We might have to give Scooter his own site. Guess the squeaky wheel does get the grease?

Marc Rich

Marc Rich

Marcus Garvey

Marcus Garvey was an African Fundamentalist. He believed that all European nations and the Untied States should stay out of the affairs of Africa. He was a contemporaries with such luminaries as Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois. He was not well liked by many people. He believed that African Americans were placed at a social disadvantage by white society and sought change.

The United States government trumped-up mail fraud charges against Garvey. He was convicted and exhausted all possible appeals. On February 8, 1925, he began serving a five year federal sentence in Atlanta. He began writing a book, and from that book we have his most famous quotation:

“Look for me in the whirlwind or the storm, look for me all around you, for, with God’s grace, I shall come and bring with me countless millions of black slaves who have died in America and the West Indies and the millions in Africa to aid you in the fight for Liberty, Freedom and Life.”

Coolidge commuted his sentence in November of 1927 and had him deported to Jamaica. If Coolidge could pardon this fellow in 1927, why hasn’t Obama made his move on Jack Johnson? Its 2009, right?

Marcus Garvey

Marcus Garvey, author of, "First Message to the Negroes of the World From Atlanta Prison"



John Edward Forte

John Edward Forte is a grammy winning music producer who was caught at the airport with $1.4 million of liquid cocaine in a briefcase. He was convicted and sentenced to fourteen years. Forte has never accepted responsibility for the cocaine.

What makes this pardon odd, is that it does not fit the paradigm of George W. Bush’s pardons and commutations. Simply, W. didn’t pardon many folks at all. Why he pardoned Forte is somewhat mysterious. Bush did not grant a full pardon to Libby, or pardon Marion Jones, Michael Vick, or grant amnesty to any of the folks involved in the water-boarding scandal. Blows me away.

John Edward Forte

John Edward Forte