By Bill Parry
Gov. Andrew Cuomo granted clemency to 29 people, including five from Queens, who have demonstrated substantial evidence of rehabilitation and a commitment to community crime reduction. Many of those receiving a pardon were facing the possibility of deportation due to their criminal record.
“While President Trump shuts down the federal government over his obsession with keeping immigrants out, New York stands strong in our support for immigrant communities,” Cuomo said. “These actions will keep more immigrant families together and take a critical step toward a more just, more fair and more compassionate New York.”
The pardoned individuals include Wojciech Lesniak, 36, was convicted of resisting arrest and attempted unauthorized use of a vehicle in the third degree in Queens in 2006. Lesniak has completed residential treatment for alcohol and drug use and currently works as the house manager for a sober house and a driver for a residential addiction treatment program. He has maintained a crime-free and sober lifestyle for the 12 years since his conviction. A pardon would allow him to reapply for his green card and pursue naturalization, according to the governor’s office.
Ronan Hylton, 47, was convicted of attempted criminal Sale of a controlled substance in the third degree in 1992, as well as other drug charges in Queens. Hylton came to the U.S. from Jamaica more than 30 years ago with his family to escape political persecution. As a father and dedicated family man, he now lives and works in Queens. A pardon will allow him to apply for discretionary relief from his deportation order. He has not been convicted of any misdemeanors or felonies for 12 years, according to the governor’s office.
Manuel Vidal Antigua, 38, was convicted of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fourth degree in Queens in 2007 for selling small amount of a controlled substance to make money for his mother’s medical expenses. He was born in the Dominican Republic and currently faces an order of removal.
Antigua is the father of two American children, helps run his community softball team, and takes care of his elderly mother and he has not committed a crime for 12 years., according to the governor’s office.
Kerrone Kay-Marie Parks, 33, was convicted of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree in Queens in 2013. She was born in Jamaica, is a domestic violence survivor, a mother of three children on the honor roll, and currently volunteers full-time at a nursing home. She has remained crime-free for five years, according to the governor’s office.
“In pardoning immigrant New Yorkers who face deportation despite years of contributing to our communities., Governor Cuomo has used a powerful tool to restore dignity to people for whom punishment will otherwise never end, simply because they weren’t born here,” Immigrant Defense Project Executive Director Alisa Welleck said. “We look forward to continuing to work with the Governor’s office and our Immigrant Clemency Project to provide immigrant New Yorkers with a fighting chance to remain with their families in the face of Trump’s hateful agenda.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr