Outgoing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued five pardons on Tuesday and also commuted five sentences as he prepares to leave office next week after resigning in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal.
The list of pardons includes individuals convicted of attempted robbery, drug crimes, bail jumping, and assault.
Additionally, Cuomo commuted the sentence of multiple convicted murderers including 45-year-old Jon-Adrian Velasquez and 63-year-old Richard “Lee” Chalk.
“One of the foundational promises of New York State is that of equal justice, and equal compassion, for all under the law,” Governor Cuomo said. “Today I’m proud to help fulfill government’s unique responsibility to harness the power of redemption, encourage those who have made mistakes to engage in meaningful rehabilitation, and empower everyone to work toward a better future for themselves and their families. These ten clemencies are another step on the long march towards a more fair, more just, more equitable, and more empathetic New York. I thank all the volunteer attorneys representing clemency applicants for their dedication and service to the cause of justice and rehabilitation.”
Cuomo announced last week that he was resigning from office effective August 24 following a report from the state’s attorney general concluding that he had committed sexual misconduct several times against multiple women during his time in office.
Some have wondered whether or not Cuomo will attempt to pardon himself to protect himself against criminal charges after he leaves office.
Fox News contributor Andrew McCarthy, who served as assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, told Fox News that there is currently no provision of New York law that would bar the governor from issuing a self-pardon.
That said, McCarthy doesn’t think Cuomo will go that route.
“I don’t believe Cuomo would pardon himself, because the groping crime he’s under investigation for in the Commission complaint is (a) considered a misdemeanor and not very serious (i.e., it’s not considered felony sexual assault), and (b) he has vigorously denied the allegation and a pardon would be tantamount to a confession of guilt,” McCarthy said.
Jessica Chasmar contributed to this report.