Thursday, December 30, 2010

Richardson Restores Citizenship Rights to Big Campaign Contributor

Gov. Bill Richardson has granted clemency to Eddie Gilbert -- an 88-year old commercial real-estate magnate — and big Richardson campaign contributor — convicted of embezzling and stock manipulation.

Only trouble is, those convictions were not crimes in New Mexico. One was in federal court and one was in New York state court.

A Richardson spokesman said Wednesday that Richardson’s action regarding Gilbert is not an actual pardon. At least two others convicted of federal crimes who had asked for pardons were denied and sent letters explaining that Richardson does not have the power to pardon federal crimes. The governor of New Mexico also doesn’t have the power to pardon crimes committed outside the state.

So the whole "restoration of state citizenship rights" thing might just be a symbolic gesture.

Gilbert's rights were restored in August. I learned about it today when I finally got to see the clemency requests I'd asked for about a month ago.

Gilbert Gallegos said Wednesday that Richardson’s clemency action only restores Eddie Gilbert’s citizen rights under state law. Asked whether that includes the right to vote — considering that federal offices like president and congressman are on the state ballot — Gallegos said he didn’t know.

Forbes magazine, did an interesting profile of Eddie Gilbert in 1999, describing how Gilbert fled the country in 1962 to live as a fugitive in Brazil instead of facing charges of embezzlement. He eventually returned and pleaded guilty to fraud and larceny. He served seven years in prison in New York. And in 1981, Gilbert was convicted of manipulating the stock of a communications-equipment manufacturer, Conrac Corp. He spent nearly two more years in prison.

Gilbert founded his BGK Group in 1991 on Garfield Street in Santa Fe. He sold controlling interest this year.

You can read my story -- which tells of Gilbert's contributions to Richardson as well as to local charities, as well as about those who apparently didn't receive clemency HERE.