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From limo to limbo




The happiest people on the last day of US President Donald Trump in office on 19 January were not his haters but 143 convicts whom he set free from prison.

The lucky inmates received presidential pardons and commutation of their sentences, a tradition of outgoing presidents. They were actually shortlisted from a long line of clemency applicants waiting for quite some time to be forgiven.

Among the lucky inmates were rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black who were serving time for illegal gun possession.

Also pardoned was Shalom Weiss who served 18 years of his 835-year sentence. Weiss received the longest-ever white-collar prison sentence for insurance fraud.

Dr. Scott Harkonen, who discovered a new kidney disease including its cause and treatment, received a full pardon for a fraud he committed and plans to return to practice. Robert Bowker was also fully pardoned from a probation sentence for arranging the transport of 22 snakes.

Trump also pardoned people convicted for corruption such as Steve Bannon, his former campaign manager who helped him win the presidency in 2016; Elliott Broidy, his former campaign fundraiser; and former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick who was serving time for racketeering, extortion and tax evasion.

Zookeeper Joseph Maldonado-Passage, who played the lead role Joe Exotic in Tiger King, a TV documentary about wildcats that went viral last year, anticipated a pardon from Trump and had prepared for it.

The 57-year-old convicted for plotting to kill a rival zookeeper and animal abuse was serving the first year of his 22-year sentence. He was so confident that his petition for commutation will be approved that he had his lawyers prepare a thank you video for Trump to be aired upon his release.

A hairdresser and fashionista were also on hand to make him up for a grand exit while a limousine was parked near the prison at the Federal Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas to fetch him.

Unfortunately, the limousine left the vicinity of the prison empty as Maldonado-Passage was excluded from the list of 143 names that Trump pardoned.

For now, it’s limbo, not limo, for him.



WJG @tribunephl_wjg