Trump pardons former 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr., ‘junk bond king’ Michael Milken

Left to right, NFL greats Jerry Rice, Charles Haley, and Ronnie Lott speak to the media after President Donald Trump pardoned ex-San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr., at the White House on Tuesday. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

Feb. 18 (UPI) — President Donald Trump issued pardons to former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr., “junk bond king” Michael Milken and former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, the White House announced Tuesday.

The announcement included pardons for a slew of other offenders as well as a commutation for former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s

A White House spokesperson told reporters Trump signed an order Monday granting DeBartolo clemency.

DeBartolo, 73, who owned the 49ers between 1977 and 2000, was charged in a 1998 case involving former congressman and Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards. DeBartolo pleaded guilty to one count of failing to report a felony after prosecutors said Edwards demanded $400,000 from the 49ers owner in exchange for a riverboat casino license. DeBartolo was also fined $1 million and served two years of probation.

After his plea, DeBartolo was fined by the NFL and barred from team operations for a year. He ultimately turned control over to his sister Denise York, who still owns the team to this day.

Former 49ers stars Jerry Rice, Ronnie Lott and Charles Haley were at the White House for the signing ceremony.

“We are excited to be here for all the right reasons,” Lott said. “You think of people who find their ways into your life to help you, deliver a certain compass. You find yourself realizing that a day like this is great because of the fact that [DeBartolo] understands his compass.

“He’s been an incredible friend. An incredible owner and we’ll always be indebted to him.”

Milken, meanwhile, served 22 months of a 10-year prison sentence for violating U.S. securities laws in the 1980s. He previously sought a pardon from former President George W. Bush and in 2018, Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, encouraged him to reverse the conviction.

As U.S. attorney in the late 1980s, Giuliani was the first to question the legality of some big deals on Wall Street, an investigation that led to Milken’s conviction.

Since his release from prison, Milken has turned to philanthropy, forming the Milken Family Foundation and donating to cancer-related charities and research.

Kerik served three years in prison and additional time under house arrest for wire fraud, tax evasion and making false statements.

His downfall began in December 2004 when Bush nominated him as secretary of homeland security. Kerik withdrew his name days later, saying he had hired an undocumented immigrant as a nanny.

Additional scrutiny turned up other damaging allegations, including that he let a construction company pay for renovations to his apartment in New York. The company had an interest in gaining his help in obtaining a city license.

In addition to DeBartolo, Milken and Kerik, Trump pardoned Ariel Friedler; Paul Pogue; former General Services Administration official David Safavian (imprisoned in connection to the Jack Abramoff scandal); and Angela Stanton.

He also commuted the sentences of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Tynice Nichole Hall, Crystal Munoz and Judith Negron, who was serving a 35-year sentence for Medicare fraud.


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