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Gov. Charlie Baker pardoned four people Wednesday, two who are seeking legal immigration and two who are hoping to advance in their careers as corrections officers.
In 2020, Baker put out criteria people would need to meet to be considered for a pardon. This includes stipulations such as the convict having taken full responsibility for their actions, making full restitution to victims, working towards self improvement, and contributing to society.
The four people pardoned Wednesday were all unanimously recommended by the state’s Advisory Board of Pardons under these guidelines.
“Each of these individuals has shown compelling reasons for requesting a pardon, including the need to remove barriers that currently prevent them from accessing more professional opportunities,” Baker said in a news release about the pardons.
“These offenses all occurred many years ago, and since that time, all four individuals have committed themselves to bettering their lives and improving their communities.”
The pardons still have to be reviewed by the Governor’s Council before they are official, but it is rare for the council not to approve a governor’s pardons.
This is the second group of people Baker has pardoned this month. Two weeks ago he pardoned four men of crimes ranging from assault to larceny. It is common for governors to issue pardons towards the end of the term in office.
Court documents from the Advisory Board of Pardons explain the history of each of the four individuals, why they are seeking a pardon, and why they were selected:
Christopher Nichols was convicted of nine crimes, including breaking and entering, malicious destruction of property, and larceny in May 2002 in Ayer District Court.
The convictions stem from an incident during which Nichols and his friends, all under 21 at the time, attempted to steal beer from several stores in different towns. They were caught after trying to steal beer from Nab Liquor Store in Westford.
At the time, Nichols said in court documents, he was 19 and struggling with the loss of two grandparents.
Nichols was sentenced to 27 days of probation, restitution, 50 hours of community service, and a $50 fine, all of which he completed. He has no other criminal history.
Nichols enlisted in the military as soon as he was eligible while attending high school at Westford Academy. He’s since had a 20-year career in the Navy, has earned many awards and commendations, and is currently the Head of Marine Corps. Corrections.
Nichols earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 2017, and is currently working on a master’s through the FBI National Academy. He currently lives in Virginia with his wife and four children.
Nichols said in court documents that he wants a pardon for his crimes so that he can pursue a career in corrections following retirement from the military, for which he is now eligible. He said he’d also like to get a license to own a gun.
Thomas Schoolcraft was convicted of nighttime breaking and entering with intent to commit a felony in April 2006 in Newburyport District Court.
The conviction stems from 2004, when Schoolcraft was 18 years old. At the time, he and a few friends broke into four homes on Plum Island in Newbury and five homes in southern New Hampshire. At one of the Plum Island homes, they stole a pair of binoculars.
Eventually, one of Schoolcraft’s friends turned him in, and he was charged in both New Hampshire and Massachusetts. He was incarcerated for six months for his crime.
After getting out, Schoolcraft worked in car sales. In 2011, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Keene State College and began volunteering at jails. Eventually he was offered a job as a corrections officer in Cheshire County. While employed there, he earned a master’s degree from Boston University.
In 2015, Schoolcraft received a conditional pardon from Gov. Deval Patrick, but one condition of the pardon was that he not own a firearm. He also had his criminal history in New Hampshire annulled in 2016.
After the pardon, Schoolcraft was employed briefly by the Massachusetts Probation Department and sought employment at the Suffolk County Jail but was turned down. He said in court documents that he received “adverse treatment” from both employers due to his criminal history.
So, Schoolcraft moved to Minnesota, as it’s one of the few states that doesn’t require a gun license to work in corrections. He began working for the Scott County Sheriff’s Department and has received positive performance reviews, according to court documents.
Schoolcraft said in court documents that he wants a pardon so that he can get a gun license and move up in his career in corrections. He has no other criminal history, and the Newbury woman whose house he broke into recommended him for pardon.
Zaida Pimentel-Solano was convicted of distribution of a class B controlled substance in May 1996 in Dorchester District Court.
The conviction stems from an incident the year before. Pimentel-Solano said in court documents that she had asked her boyfriend for a ride to work, but that they made a stop on the side of the road on the way during which a man came up to the car and quickly interacted with her boyfriend.
Pimentel-Solano said that as they drove away, two marked police cars turned on their lights. She didn’t know her boyfriend was selling drugs until that incident occurred, she said.
Pimentel-Solano was sentenced to one year in jail, which was suspended in favor of a year of probation, which she completed without incident. She has no other criminal records.
Pimentel-Solano said in court documents that she wants a pardon so that she can legally immigrate to the U.S. and keep supporting her four children. She is originally from the Dominican Republic, but immigrated to the U.S. at age 24 in 1994.
When Pimentel-Solano immigrated to the U.S., she took a job working for a cleaning company. She worked there until 2006 when she quit to focus on caring for her children.
Pimentel-Solano has four children — two which live with her and two which live on their own. She also has three grandchildren. Her two oldest children both work in healthcare, and her youngest children are in college and high school.
Over the past 20 years, court documents said, Pimentel-Solano has done extensive volunteer work. She worked at a head start program in Charlestown, making breakfast for children, reading to them in Spanish, and teaching their parents parenting skills.
Even when she cut back on her hours to care for her children, court documents said, she began providing childcare for other Bostonians who could not afford other options.
She’s also worked as a organizer for political candidates and voter enrollment campaigns, and lead a program that taught parenting skills to parents with young children.
Because of her drug conviction, Pimentel-Solano can be deported at any time, and this haunts her every day, she told the board. She also cannot visit her 10 siblings in the Dominican Republic and has had to turn down many job offers due to her immigration status.
“Although she has contributed greatly to her community, she has been living her life ‘hiding in the shadows’ due to her immigration concerns,” the advisory board wrote.
Bertrand Lamitie was convicted of possession of a class B controlled substance with intent to distribute in Cambridge District Court in November 2001.
The charge stems from an investigation by police during which they bought crack cocaine from Lamitie and found items consistent with drug dealing in his apartment.
Lamitie was sentenced to a year in jail, of which he served six months and was then released to serve a year of probation. But instead of serving probation, when Lamitie was released from prison he was put in immigration detention. He stayed there for a year before being deported to Haiti in 2003.
While Lamitie is originally from Haiti, his family moved to Cambridge when he was around six years old. In court documents, he said he did well in school and in sports until he was wrongly accused of smoking marijuana in the school bathroom and was kicked out.
After being kicked out, Lamitie said, he started using drugs and then began selling them to support his addiction. But, he said, he participated in a drug treatment program during his incarceration and has been sober since. In fact, he told the advisory board his conviction saved his life by forcing him to detox.
Since Lamitie had not lived in Haiti since he was young, he was not familiar with the language or the culture. This made his deportation difficult, he said. He was also forced to be away from his young daughter who was still in Massachusetts.
Lamitie worked odd jobs in Haiti until 2009 when he immigrated to Canada. He met his wife there and had two children with her while working as a security guard at McGill University in Montreal. He was also an active church and Knights of Columbus member.
In 2015, Lamitie’s application for Canadian citizenship was denied because of his Massachusetts conviction. He was then deported to Haiti where he struggled economically until he found a job as an interpreter.
Lamitie has been charged in three other adult cases and one juvenile case in Massachusetts, but in all cases, the charges were dismissed or abandoned. He has no criminal record in Canada or Haiti.
Lamitie said in court documents that he wants a pardon so that he can legally immigrate to Canada to be with his wife and two young children, as well as visit his 22-year-old daughter who is now a student at Framingham State University.
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