Maura Healey Offers More Time For William Veal Pardon Review, After Some Members of Massachusetts Governor’s Council Express Concerns About It

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By Sam Doran
State House News Service

The Massachusetts Governor’s Council pushed off its consideration of a controversial pardon on Wednesday while councilors decide whether to hold a public hearing on the proposed forgiveness of William “Chill” Veal’s numerous convictions.

Veal, president of the Chills’ Diamond Ring Education Foundation, was convicted of knowingly receiving stolen property in 1981 and of assault and battery in 1983, and in 1991 he was sentenced to three to five years in prison after conviction on 12 counts of conspiracy to commit larceny, one count of conspiracy, and one count of larceny.

The Parole Board, acting as the Advisory Board of Pardons, unanimously opposed his latest request for a pardon, but Governor Maura Healey endorsed Veal’s petition over the board’s objections. It now rests with the independently-elected Governor’s Council for a final decision.

A Brockton resident and retired autobody painter, Veal has garnered support from some public officials, including U.S. representative Ayanna Pressley, state Representative Kevin Honan (D-Brighton), and state Senator Liz Miranda (D-Roxbury). But council members told State House News Service on Tuesday that they had reservations and wanted more time to think.

Healey chaired Wednesday’s meeting of the Governor’s Council, a task usually delegated to the lieutenant governor. When the body arrived at the Veal matter on its agenda, Healey addressed Councilor Paul DePalo, the acting councilor of jurisdiction for the case.

“Councilor DePalo, I understand that you’d like some additional time to decide whether to schedule a hearing on Mr. Veal, so we will delay putting this recommendation forward for a vote,” Healey said.

“Thank you, Governor, I appreciate that,” DePalo replied.

“O.K.,” Healey said, “We’ll wait on this one.”

DePalo told reporters after the assembly that councilors had not decided on whether to hold a hearing, but they do want “an opportunity to ensure that we’re all comfortable moving forward with a vote.”

Governor’s Council candidate Anne Manning-Martin, a Republican, said this week that she felt “the prime motivator” behind the governor’s pardon recommendation was the “recommendations from prominent politicians” attached to Veal’s plea.

“I strongly dispute that,” Healey told reporters Wednesday afternoon.

Healey added:  “I was presented with the information from my team, and just looking at Mr. Veal and his background, and looking at what he’s done, his commitment to the community, looking at his circumstance, looking at his continued desire to expand and build on his nonprofit work, it is a case that is appropriately within the guidelines that I issued months ago.”

A pardon is formal forgiveness of a convict’s offense. Pardons can open doors for recipients, such as clearing a path to U.S. citizenship or aiding employment opportunities in jobs that require background checks or security clearance.


Full Pardon For Former Bank Robber Kenny Jean, Sans Proviso

The Governor’s Council unanimously granted two pardons on Wednesday, June 5, including a full (or “unconditional”) pardon for Kenny Jean, apparently in an effort to solidify his chances of gaining U.S. citizenship. Healey sent that one up to the council for approval despite the Parole Board voting 5-1 to oppose it.

Jean received a conditional pardon in September 2023 — supported unanimously by the Parole Board, Healey, and the Governor’s Council — that officially forgave his offense but stipulated that Jean would not be allowed to obtain a license to carry a firearm.

Jean immigrated from Haiti at age 6 and entered the custody of the state Department of Children and Families at age 11 after suffering abuse from family members, according to the Parole Board. He served prison time for an armed robbery conviction after making off with cash from the Seekonk branch of BayCoast Bank in 2015. He initially applied for a pardon in order to gain citizenship and avoid deportation to Haiti, a place where he said he did not know the language and had no connections.

The board acknowledged that “there have been legal arguments as to whether the firearm license condition attached to his pardon affects Mr. Jean’s ability to obtain a Green Card or US Citizenship,” adding that “there are open legal questions surrounding the consequences of pardons in the US immigration system.”

Councilors said Wednesday that their concerns on the Jean matter were answered and resolved.

While an unconditional pardon could potentially make someone eligible for a gun permit, something that worried Councilors Terrence Kennedy and Joseph Ferreira in this case, they said in reality Jean would not be able to obtain a license to carry.

“Because we are not pardoning the assault and battery charge, he is ineligible for a gun permit, forever,” Kennedy said during the assembly. “So my concern was gone with respect to that.”

Ferreira, a retired police chief, said that beyond the statutory disqualification, a police chief in Massachusetts would still need to find Jean a “suitable person” to hold a license to carry — “and I don’t think he’d pass that standard.”

Councilor Eileen Duff told State House News Service on Tuesday that she viewed it as a matter of life and death.

“The system has failed Mr. Jean from the moment he stepped ground in this country,” Duff said. “I mean, there is no question in anybody’s mind that the system failed him. There is no question in anybody’s mind that he would not live — and I mean that literally, he would not survive — if deported to Haiti. He would be killed.”


Pardon Applicant With Close Personal Ties To State Rep Can Now Travel Without Fear After Pardon

The Governor’s Council also on Wednesday, June 5 granted without comment a pardon for Danis Reyes, who was convicted in 1995 in Lawrence District Court on distribution of a Class A controlled substance. The Parole Board unanimously supported the Reyes petition.

The board heard support for Reyes from state Representative Frank Moran (D-Lawrence), who called Reyes a “civil representative of our wonderful country,” according to the board’s report. A man named Erving Severino said Reyes is “a good man in America.”

State Representative Estela Reyes (D-Lawrence) registered her support, first in a letter prior to the 2022 election in which she was a candidate for state representative, then after her election to the House when she now “identified herself as Mr. Reyes’ wife,” the report said.

State Representative Reyes called Danis Reyes a “loving father” and “active member of our community.”

The board said Reyes described himself as an “active community member” who “helped his former partner campaign for local government.” He told the board he wants to pursue U.S. citizenship in order to “travel with less anxiety,” according to the board’s report.


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