Pol Pleads: Pardon Me — I Only Voted!
New York Daily News
August 29, 2008
By Jotham Sederstrom
Brooklyn political gadfly John O'Hara wants to wipe the slate clean of a decade-old voter fraud conviction - and he thinks rapper Slick Rick can help.
O'Hara, a five-time candidate for public office who lost his license to practice law after being convicted in 1997, was expected to file for a pardon today, he told the Daily News.
"A horrible precedent is set when you lock up a person for voting," said O'Hara, 47, who divides his time in Sunset Park and New Jersey. "If a pardon is issued, it's like it never happened. It wipes out the precedent."
O'Hara believes his request could get a boost from Gov. Paterson's decision to pardon rapper Ricky (Slick Rick) Walters, who pleaded guilty to attempted murder.
Walters served more than five years in prison after pleading guilty in 1991 to attempted murder and weapons charges after shooting his cousin and a bystander.
Paterson issued the pardon in May - two months after being named governor - to help the bling-loving Walters escape federal deportation to his native England.
Walters, best known for songs like "La-Di-Da-Di" and "Children's Story," was born in Great Britain and moved to the Bronx with his family when he was 11.
"Listen, he issued a pardon to someone who pled guilty to shooting two people," O'Hara said on Wednesday. "I don't know the details of his case, but all I did was vote."
District Attorney Charles Hynes said O'Hara registered to vote from his galpal's address on 47th St. in Sunset Park while he maintained a permanent residence 15 blocks away.
O'Hara was indicted in 1996 on seven felony counts of having registered to vote and having voted from a temporary address four years earlier.
O'Hara, a former candidate for state Assembly and City Council, completed a community service stint last May.
A spokeswoman for Paterson declined to comment on O'Hara's request or the decision to grant the pardon to Walters.
Of the hundreds who request commutations or pardons in New York State each year, only seven are granted on average, a Paterson spokeswoman said.
Paterson has only granted one pardon so far - to Slick Rick.