On August 24th, 2021 embattled Governor Andrew Cuomo will leave office following his resignation announcement. Cuomo made the decision to step down following a scathing report from State Attorney General Letitia James' office revealing sexual harassment incidents.

Upon telling the people of New York State that he would be stepping down, he added the addendum that he would do so after 14 days. Several people are still wondering why he needed that time, or why it would be allowed, but that is indeed the case. During that time Cuomo has continued to issue mandates and most recently granted clemency to or pardoned several people who are currently incarcerated and have been for a long time.

Governor Cuomo says,

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.

The following individuals have had their sentences commuted or have been pardoned. Commutation of a sentence reduces the sentence without expunging a record. Pardon is basically an erasing of the record.

Commutations

1. Nehru Gumbs (36) was convicted of Manslaughter, Criminal Possession of a Weapon and Assault back in 2005 when he was 18-years-old. During his time served, he has acted as a Youth Counselor in the Sing-Sing Youth Assistance Program. He earned an education and a degree and will be seeking a job in the heating and plumbing profession.

2. Jon-Adrian Velasquez (45) was convicted of 2nd Degree Murder, Attempted Murder, three counts of Robbery and Attempted Robbery. After serving 23 years of a 25 year to life sentence. He has earned an Associate's and Bachelor's degree in 2012 and 2014. He has also worked as a teaching fellow for a Professor at Columbia University. Mr. Velazquez helped establish "Voices From Within," an educational initiative combating gun violence through the voices of incarcerated people. Upon his release he plans to live with his mother and continue to work on the "Voices From Within" program.

3. George Martinez (60) has been convicted on several charges from Burglary to Attempted Robbery in 1992, 1997 and 2007. In his 15 years of a 17 year sentence, Cuomo says Martinez has earned his GED, has become a well-regarded cook and provided voluntary cooking services for various events, including cooking meals for 200 guests at a ceremony for the New York Theological Seminary. He plans to live with his son upon being released and will continue working on his cooking skills.

4. Dontie Mitchell (41) committed most of his crimes (Robbery, Criminal Use of a Firearm, etc.) while he was homeless and 17-years-old. During his 24 and a half years of a 27-54 year sentence. While incarcerated he has served as a mentor to several young men who grew up without role models. He has received his GED and helped several organizations and will live with his mom and stepfather upon his release.

5. Richard "Lee" Chalk (63) was a driver during a double murder and robbery back in 1988. He served 33 years of a 50 year to life sentence. He has taken the time during his sentence he has earned training certificates in various fields, including legal research, food service, sighted guide training, and the Fatherhood & Family Law Program. He has also volunteered with Project Care and the American Cancer Society. He will work on getting his commercial driving license and resume work as a truck driver. He will live with family during that time.

Pardons

1. James Pamphile (44) grew up in Haiti and his childhood was marred with physical and mental abuse due to his sexual orientation. He was convicted of bail jumping, Assault and Attempted Assault between 2011 and 2013. With the pardon from Governor Cuomo, Pamphile, an accomplished dancer, will be able to stay in the country and keep living his life.

2. Ivelisse Castillo (60) was convicted on drug charges in 2001. In the last 19 years Castillo has been a regular volunteer at a community garden, a local rehabilitation and nursing home, and her church. This pardon will allow her to remain in the United States with her family.

3. Jorge Quinones (47) was also convicted on several drug charges. Since his convictions, he has earned a Master's Certificate from Boston University's computer engineering program, and launched a successful career working with various companies in the cybersecurity industry, including building communication helmets for the U.S. military. During the last 25 years, Quinones has lived crime free and this pardon will allow him to remain in the United States with his wife and family.

4. Miriam Ordonez (40) has a newborn baby and two children with special needs. In 1999, at the age of 17-years-old, she was convicted of drug charges. Those charges were related to her working at a coffee shop owned by a drug dealer. That drug dealer was known to take advantage of undocumented children. By receiving this pardon, this victim of domestic abuse will be able to stay in the country with her children.

5. Catherine Valdez (35) at the age of 16-years-old was convicted of Attempted Robbery. Since then she has volunteered in the health care field and hopes to become a nurse. She is the single mother of four children and this pardon will allow her to stay in the United States.

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