Friday, January 16, 2009

Watch List: Tainted Okorie Denial Still Stands

ProRepublica notes it was a year ago this month that President Bush sent a letter to Chibueze Okorie's son which wished him and his family "joy and peace." The letter came in response to a request for a presidential pardon. Later, the U.S. Pardon Attorney, Roger Adams, was removed for making "racist" statements about Chibueze Okorie while reviewing Okorie's clemency application. Adams also recommended that the application be denied. ProRepublica says Okorie's lawyer, Margaret Love, "believes the case, tinged by charges of racism, deserves to be reconsidered."

Okorie drove a van for a drug ring and pleaded guilty to "possessing heroin with intent to distribute." But he also agreed to help prosecutors and, as a result, got an 18-month prison sentence. After serving his time, Okorie attended seminary and became "Director of Evangelism and Prison Outreach." Now, twenty years after the conviction, he faces deportation to Nigeria and Love says, "A pardon is the only way for him to avoid being deported."

Despite Adams' dismissal, and the impressive support Okorie has from public officials, President Bush went along with Adams' recommendation and denied the application last August. Love says she has gone "directly" to the White House to get Okorie's case "reconsidered," but has no idea if the fruit of the tainted process is actually going to be reconsidered. See more interesting details of the case here.

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