A Corona Army Specialist, Osvaldo Hernandez, who served in Afghanistan for 15 months, received a pardon for a gun-possession conviction that could clear his way to now serve in the NYPD.
Governor David Paterson publicly announced on December 29, 2009 that he pardoned Hernandez, so that Hernandez, 27, could fulfill his lifelong dream of pursuing a career in law enforcement. The NYPD has said a felony conviction prevented an applicant from joining the department.
“[He] has demonstrated that individuals can turn their lives around and that we need not let our mistakes define us,” Paterson said.
Hernandez’s felony conviction arose from a November 22, 2002 arrest when an unlicensed loaded handgun was recovered from his car. Hernandez, then 22 years old, worked as a private investigator and attended LaGuardia College. He pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree and served eight out of a 12 month jail sentence at Rikers.
Upon his release, Hernandez enlisted in the Army, volunteered to serve in the infantry, completed paratrooper training and then deployed to Afghanistan in 2007.
Fifteen months later, Hernandez received an honorable discharge and returned to New York City. In November 2008, Queens Supreme Court Justice Barry Kron granted him a “relief of civil disability” certificate that restored his right to carry a gun.
However, the conviction continued to stain his otherwise spotless record, that is, until Paterson’s pardon.
“In certain exceptional and compelling circumstances, an individual’s sincere efforts to repay his or her debt to society warrant a grant of this extraordinary relief,” Paterson said. “I commend Mr. Hernandez for his exemplary military career and am proud to assist him in attempting to further his career in law enforcement.”
Richard A. Brown, the Queens District Attorney, supports the Governor’s decision.
“During my many years on the bench, as Counsel to former Governor Hugh L. Carey and now as a prosecutor, I have had the opportunity to review many hundreds of clemency applications,” he said. “Frankly, I have not seen an application for clemency more compelling.”
The NYPD has not commented on whether he will be able to join an upcoming cadet class. But both the NYPD and Hernandez will have to wait to find out.
Hernandez was recalled to active duty in August 2009, and is expected to redeploy to Afghanistan in January 2010.