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Trump surprises a radio host by granting him a pardon he had not asked for


At 19, Gary Hendler owned a luxury car and spent his days with the most famous artists. But, together with some friends, he decided to take a step that ended up derailing his life.

By Rick Shapiro - NBC News

As I went through the list of people who received a presidential pardon from Donald Trump on Wednesday morning, one stood out as if it had been written in bright red letters.

It wasn't Steve Bannon, Trump's former adviser.

It wasn't Lil Wayne, the famous rapper.

This person had no connection to Trump and has never recorded a hip-hop record.

His name is

Gary Hendler


Is my uncle.

[Can Trump grant pardons to his family members before being charged with a crime?]

Uncle Gary, 67, pleaded guilty to drug conspiracy charges in 1984, but did not spend time in prison, and he never expected to receive a pardon from Trump.

This for good reason: she

never requested one from him


He did send a 90-page pardon request to former President Barack Obama's Justice Department in 2016. But it all seemed to have been for nothing.

Obama granted some kind of clemency to 1,927 people at the end of his second term, but Gary was not among them.

"I thought that was the end of everything for me," said Gary, a radio host and former addict who had spent more than 30 years helping people recover from addictions.

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He had had zero contact with the Trump Administration in the past four years.

No one even contacted him to let him know that a reprieve was on the way.

"I couldn't believe it," he

said, using rudeness for emphasis, when asked about his reaction to the news.

He said he went through the list out of curiosity when he woke up Wednesday morning.

“It was his last night at the White House.

I knew I was going to pardon people, ”said Gary, who voted for Joe Biden.

"Did you think it was going to be on the list?" He wonders, "it was something so remote that it wasn't even funny."

[This woman was convicted of possession of marijuana.

Now that it is legal, her daughter wants New Jersey to compensate her for what she suffered]

Gary's story began in 1973, when he became hooked on


, a recreational drug from the 1970s while attending Temple University in Philadelphia.

He was not your average college student.

He had already experienced a bit of a fast life while working at a Philadelphia-based record distribution company during high school.

"I was 19 years old, and I had a Bentley," he said, "and I was meeting the most famous artists in the world: the Temptations, the Four Tops, Barry Manilow."

He and three friends with addictions opened a "stress clinic" in 1991 in the Philadelphia area and hired a psychiatrist to

prescribe methaqualone

to anyone who asked. 

Gary's partners cut ties with him a month later, before either made any profit from the business, he said.

He roamed the streets the following year before entering rehab in 1982.

"The only good thing that resulted from being removed from the clinic is that it forced me to confront the life I had been living," he wrote in his 2006 clemency petition.

"About a year later, in May 1982, I checked into an addiction treatment program at Pennsylvania Hospital that saved my life."

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The clinic remained open until 1984, when federal agents raided the business and arrested its former associates, as well as the doctors and pharmacists who worked for them.

Gary, whose name was still on the corporate documents, was questioned.

He was sober and about to get married: 

"I had turned my life upside down and saw my involvement in the clinic only as a bad chapter in my life," he wrote in a request to the Obama White House.

He agreed to plead guilty and cooperate with the government.

He was sentenced to

three years of supervised probation

and a $ 300 fine.

"I'm lucky," he said in an interview on Wednesday, "if it wasn't for our fight, I would have gone to prison with the rest of them."

[The Department of Justice investigates a possible bribery scheme in exchange for presidential pardons within the White House]

He eventually became the father of two daughters and launched a successful real estate business in the Philadelphia area.

In 1985, he began meetings with Alcoholics Anonymous in a synagogue outside of Philadelphia that continues to this day.

He also

hosts a radio show

, Clean and Sober Radio, featuring musicians, athletes, and political figures discussing their struggle with substance abuse.

In 2015, Governor Tom Wolf appointed him to serve on the Pennsylvania Advisory Council on Drug and Alcohol Abuse.

"He has mentored many people on their path to sobriety with his radio broadcasts," reads Gary's description published by the Trump Administration.

"His former probation officer noted that he had become 'integral' in the lives of many community members who were dealing with substance abuse problems," it added. 

Gary, who lives with his wife in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, said FBI agents visited him and conducted interviews with his neighbors and family in 2016. He still

has no idea

how his name ended up among those who came to Trump's desk.

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His clemency attorney, Margaret Love, said the language in Gary's description - that the clemency was supported by former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and the Office of the Pardon Prosecutor - shows that he went through normal Department process. of Justice to the desk of the president.

"It was totally normal,"

said Love, who led the Office of the Pardon Counsel during the George HW Bush and Bill Clinton sessions.

"No special allegations or influence peddling. Of the 149 applications, only 18 went through the Justice Department process. It is fortunate," he added.

Gary said he burst into tears when he saw his name on the clemency list Wednesday morning.

He still remembers the exact date he last used drugs or alcohol: May 3, 1982: "It's the final chapter, the closing of my life in addiction and all the horrible things that came with it."

Source: telemundo

All news articles on 2021-01-21

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