WASHINGTON – Four Maryland men were included in the flurry of pardons and commutations that President Clinton signed on his last day of office, the Department of Justice reported.
Three men were pardoned, including one who was convicted of selling classified photographs of a Soviet aircraft carrier to a defense publication, and a fourth had his nearly 20-year sentence for drug charges commuted to the eight years he had served.
Justice Department documents do not list the reasons for the pardons and commutations or the groups that may have lobbied the Oval Office in support of them.
But an attorney for one of the pardoned men said the pardon process is meant for people like his client.
“There was an aberrant moment in the otherwise exemplary life of a hardworking family man,” Steven A. Allen said of his client, Vinson Stewart Poling Jr. of Baldwin. Poling pleaded guilty to making a false bank entry and was fined and sentenced in 1980 to two years’ probation.
Poling was not available for comment.
“Vince is very grateful that his many years of hard work have been recognized and resulted in the pardon,” Allen said. “Vince earned this. Not a single political string was pulled.”
Allen said the pardon process involves an application, an FBI investigation and a long wait. He said the pardon essentially washes a conviction clean. All civil rights are restored, and the men can now say that they have not been convicted of a felony.
Also pardoned was Richard Anthony De Labio of Baltimore, who was fined and sentenced to two year’s probation on a mail fraud charge. He could not be reached and a family member declined to comment, but Donald Bollhorst, who testified at De Labio’s trial, said the case involved “a problem with trucking companies and truck drivers that he represented.”
The highest-profile Maryland pardon was the case of Samuel Loring Morison, convicted in 1985 of selling classified photographs to Jane’s Defence Weekly, a defense industry publication.
Morison was a Navy intelligence analyst and an editor of “Jane’s Fighting Ships,” a reference book on naval vessels, at the time of his arrest. The Washington Post reported in 1985 that Morison supplied information and photographs of U.S. and foreign vessels for years in his role as editor, which the Navy allowed as long as the information had been published or was generally publicly available.
Morison was charged with theft and espionage, one of the first times the espionage statute was used to prosecute someone who gave information to the media rather than a foreign power.
He served two years in prison and is currently a free-lance journalist and historian who writes for Navy-oriented publications. He lives in Crofton but could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Derrick Curry had his sentence commuted by Clinton to time served since his 1993 sentencing on charges of conspiring to distribute crack cocaine. He still has five years of supervised release, including drug testing, ahead of him.
Curry has been held up as a symbol of the injustice of mandatory minimum sentences and the discrepancy between sentences for crack and powder cocaine. His name was on the short lists of groups that were lobbying for pardons for those convicted of low-level drug offenses.