Gov. Peter Shumlin released on Saturday a list of 10 year-end gubernatorial pardons that include a pair of notable political names: John Zaccaro Jr. and Richard Mallary Jr.
Zaccaro is the son of the late Geraldine Ferraro, a former Democratic congresswoman from New York and candidate for vice president in 1984. Mallary is the son of the late congressman Richard Mallary, a Vermont Republican.
Saturday’s pardons are separate from Shumlin’s offer of clemency for those convicted of minor marijuana offenses, although five of the 10 were convicted of marijuana charges. The number of pardons is also notable: Before Saturday, according to a press release from Shumlin, the governor had issued a mere six pardons in his six years in office.
“I believe in second chances, and I believe we as a society will continue to move towards a more sensible approach to drug addiction and criminal justice,” Shumlin said in a statement. He added that the pardons would “help relieve what can essentially amount a life sentence of burden and stigma.”
The Zaccaros are generous donors to Democratic causes, and Mallary is a fabled name in Vermont politics. Did fortune favor the well-connected?
Shumlin spokesman Scott Coriell said not so. “All recipients applied for the pardons, as anyone else would,” he wrote in an email to Seven Days. “These pardons are consistent with others issued by this governor, most of which have been for drug offenses.”
Coriell added that any implication of political favoritism by the governor was “offensive.”
The Zaccaro case sparked headlines and controversy not only in Vermont but across the country. Zaccaro was a 22-year-old Middlebury College student when he was arrested in February 1986 for attempting to sell a quarter of a gram of cocaine to an undercover police officer. His arrest came less than a year and a half after Ferraro’s historic candidacy as Walter Mondale’s running mate — the first woman to run for such high office on a major party ticket.
The details of his arrest prompted coverage by the Washington Post, which reported that police found a larger quantity of cocaine in Zaccaro’s car, and more drugs and paraphernalia in a search of his apartment. He was charged, and ultimately convicted, of a felony drug offense. He could have gotten a five-year sentence, but served only four months of house arrest.
At the time of his conviction, his mother reacted with fury. She told People magazine that she believed her son had been “set up,” and his attorney called it a case of “selective prosecution.” At the time, most drug offenses were handled internally by campus authorities, and it was unusual for a student to face a jury trial and a potential prison sentence.
Mallary Jr. also faced a drug case, according to Shumlin’s press release. It said that Mallary was convicted of a felony charge of selling marijuana in 1978. He had been arrested after trying to sell three pounds of marijuana to an undercover police officer. At the time, Mallary was a student at the University of Vermont. He now lives in Westmore.
Also pardoned: Janet Mazza of Colchester, who had been convicted in 2003 on felony charges of attempted sale and possession of cocaine. Sen. Dick Mazza (D-Grand Isle) said that he does not know Janet Mazza.
The others receiving pardons, according to Shumlin’s press statement:
Hannah Anderson of Middlebury, who was convicted of misdemeanor domestic assault in 1997; Beverly Clement, an out-of-stater convicted of felony marijuana possession for a 1997 offense that happened as she drove through Vermont to Maine; and Bruce Cohen, now of Arizona, convicted of felony marijuana possession and cultivation in 1987.
Also pardoned was Janelle Lewis, a developmentally disabled woman convicted of two felony counts of sexual assault on a minor in 2003; Raymond Nott, convicted of felony criminal mischief in 1989 after damaging cars; and Linda and William Shatney, convicted of marijuana cultivation in 1988.