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Outgoing governor grants pardon to Zaccaro

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Posted on January 5, 2017 |
By Anne Galloway VTDigger.org



MONTPELIER — Gov. Peter Shumlin this past Saturday announced that he had pardoned the son of a former female candidate for vice president — a man who was busted for selling drugs while a Middlebury College student three decades ago.

John Zaccaro Jr., the son of Geraldine Ferraro, was convicted of selling cocaine while he was a student at Middlebury College. Zaccaro, then 22, sold $25 worth of cocaine to an undercover Vermont State Police trooper in 1986. He was convicted in 1988 and sentenced to four months in prison. But instead of going to jail, he was held under house arrest for three months. UPI reported at the time that he served time in a “posh” Burlington apartment.

News reports at the time of Zaccaro’s arrest said that he was known on campus as “the Pharmacist.”

Ferraro was the first woman to run for vice president and ran on the Democratic ticket with presidential candidate Walter Mondale in 1984. Ferraro died in 2011.

Zaccaro is now a real estate developer in New York City. In September 2015 he hosted a fundraiser for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Shumlin spokesman Scott Coriell said he believed that Zaccaro applied for the pardon via the form on the governor’s website, which was available to anyone.

“The governor has never met Mr. Zaccaro, other than through the interview he conducted while considering the pardon,” Coriell said.

Of the 16 pardons Gov. Shumlin issued during his tenure, most have been for drug related offenses. “So the pardon of Mr. Zacaro is consistent with the types of pardons the governor has issued in the past,” Coriell said.

The governor’s pardon of Zaccaro is one of 10 he announced on Saturday.

The other pardon of local interest was given to Hannah Anderson, who was convicted of domestic assault (misdemeanor) on April 30, 1997, in Addison County. The announcement of the pardons said Anderson’s offense occurred against her mother while Anderson was moving out of her mother’s house. Anderson is a resident of Middlebury.

Shumlin last month announced that he would offer pardons for small marijuana possession convictions to people who have not been charged with felonies for other crimes. Coriell said the 10 pardons announced last weekend were separate from the marijuana-related pardon.

Vermont decriminalized possession of small amounts of pot two years ago. Shumlin has said it makes sense that with the new law in place and legislative discussion of marijuana legalization to pardon people previously convicted of pot possession.

More than 400 individuals applied for pardons. The application period closed Dec. 25.

On Tuesday, Shumlin announced he had pardoned 192 individuals convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana.

“A minor marijuana possession charge should not be an anchor that holds back an individual from getting a good job or going about their life,” Shumlin said. “While attitudes and laws about marijuana use are rapidly changing, there is still a harmful stigma associated with it. My hope was to help as many individuals as I could overcome that stigma and the very real struggles that too often go along with it. Vermont should follow the many states that are legalizing and regulating the use of marijuana and put to an end the incredible failure that is the War on Drugs.”

In 2013, Gov. Shumlin signed a law decriminalizing possession of less than one ounce of marijuana. Before the law was changed, thousands of Vermonters were charged with the misdemeanor offense of possessing up to two ounces of marijuana. For many of those individuals, that misdemeanor offense presented lasting challenges, including difficulty finding employment, working in federal buildings, applying to college, chaperoning their children on school trips, becoming a caretaker for a partner, traveling internationally, or obtaining a professional license.

Eight of the 192 people pardoned are Addison County residents, they range in age from 24 to 44.

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