Mark Wahlberg Applies for Pardon in 1988 Boston Assault Case

–Kevork Djansezian/REUTERS

Actor Mark Wahlberg is seeking a pardon from the state of Massachusetts for a 1988 assault in Boston. In his application to the Board of Pardons, Wahlberg describes what he calls “the essential facts’’ of his conviction. He says he attempted to steal two cases of alcohol from a man outside of a convenience store and hit the man in the head with a wooden stick. He then hit another man while avoiding police before eventually being detained with a small amount of marijuana in his pocket. Wahlberg was under the influence of drugs and alcohol during the incident.

Court documents, obtained by The Smoking Gun in 1997, flesh out the story with details Wahlberg left out in his application—details often forgotten by the public that could easily play a factor in whether or not he’s pardoned.


A Suffolk Superior Court sentencing memorandum states that Wahlberg shouted racial slurs at two Vietnamese men multiple times during the incident. Wahlberg acknowledges this in his application. While he states that “the trial judge found me guilty of these two criminal contempt counts,’’ the memorandum states that he pled guilty to the two counts.

“The charges were based on the fact that I violated a civil injunction that I agreed to have entered against me when I was 15 years old,’’ Wahlberg wrote.

The injunction prohibited Wahlberg from directly or indirectly assaulting, threatening or harassing any person or the property of any person because of his or her race, color or nationality, according to the memorandum.

Here is what Wahlberg did to violate that injunction and what he left out of his application, according to the memorandum. The state asserts it would have been able to prove these events beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

The wooden stick Wahlberg carried was approximately five feet long and two to three inches in diameter. When Wahlberg approached the man carrying the alcohol, he called him a “Vietnam f—ing s—,’’ hit him in the head, and then knocked him unconscious onto the ground. The stick broke into two pieces and was later recovered from the scene.


Wahlberg, along with two other people, fled the area. He found another Vietnamese man, put his arm around the man’s shoulder, and said, “Police coming, police coming, hide me.’’ After a police cruiser passed, Wahlberg punched the man in the eye, making him fall to the ground. The man identified Wahlberg as his attacker when police arrived. After he was placed under arrest, Wahlberg made multiple unsolicited statements about “gooks’’ and “slant-eyed gooks.’’

Wahlberg was then taken back to the scene of the original attack. He identified the first victim as the person he struck, and said something to the effect of, “You don’t have to let him identify me, I’ll tell you now that’s the motherf— [whose] head I split open.’’

Wahlberg spent a considerable amount of time in his application saying how he’s turned his life around since this incident.

“Rather than ignore or deny my troubled past, I have used the public spotlight to speak openly about the mistakes I made as a teenager so that others do not make those mistakes,’’ he wrote.

While that’s probably true, and while Wahlberg has a long list of charitable actions he can rattle off as he makes his case for this pardon, the version of events in his application is not the whole truth, at least according to this memorandum.

Wahlberg wrote that the easiest answer as to why he’s applying for this pardon is that his record generally keeps him from obtaining things like a concessionaire’s license—hindering his personal involvement in various restaurant ventures—and from obtaining positions in law enforcement to help at-risk youth.


Wahlberg also gave another reason:

“The more complex answer is that receiving a pardon would be a formal recognition that I am not the same person that I was on the night of April 8, 1988.’’

Even if Wahlberg is not the same person anymore, he was that person at one point, and if he’s seeking a pardon the full version of how he acted is what should be judged.

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April 27, 2021 | 8:56 AM