BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — “The crime is still on the books,” declared Carl Calabrese, political strategist.
Disgraced former Congressman Chris Collins is out of prison, thanks to a pardon from President Donald Trump.
Collins served just two months of his 26-month sentence for insider trading.
But exactly what does a pardon mean for Collins’ future.
“The first thing I think you need to understand about a pardon is — it doesn't erase the crime. It simply takes away the penalty,” explained Calabrese.
Calabrese said the crime of federal insider trading Collins pleaded guilty to is still on the books.
Collins will face certain restrictions even with the pardon.
“If he ever wants to run for office, or anyone who is pardon from Florida wants to run for office — own a gun or vote — those things have to be removed or forgiven the state government not by federal government,” explained Calabrese.
But imagine how someone might feel who served 27 years behind bars for a crime he never committed. We asked Valentino Dixon of Buffalo for his reaction.
Dixon was released in September of 2018 after his conviction for murder was overturned.
“What were your thoughts when you heard that Chris Collins was released from prison already?” Buckley asked.
“I’m deeply troubled because eight witnesses cleared me of my crime and a confession — yet — I spent 27-years in prison,” Dixon replied. “The message that it sends — is that when you’re wealthy and powerfully connected then you receive a lighter sentenced — or no sentence at all.”
Dixon calls the Collins pardon a “double standard” and filled with “hypocrisy.”
“Evidence alone is not enough in our judicial system — it’s who you know and this is the type of message that this is sending to the Americans people,” remarked Dixon.
Dixon wrote a book The Soul of an Unfreed Man due for release March 1, 2021.
As for Collins, Calabrese says it's unlikely he would try to make a political comeback since he would need the state of Florida to grant him permission.
“If you're going to run for office and you've been pardoned of a felony — a federal felony — that's going to be used by your opponent,” Calabrese noted.
Calabrese says he does not believe Collins will ever try to enter the politics arena again.
“I don’t think it is realistic to think of him ever emerging into the public light again,” Calabrese responded.