NH gov candidate supported arsonist pardon

Posted Oct. 04, 2010, at 12:22 p.m.

CONCORD, N.H. — New Hampshire Republican gubernatorial candidate John Stephen is defending an unsuccessful effort to win a pardon for a convicted arsonist who is also a family friend.

Edward Socha of Auburn was convicted in 1991 on charges he burned down his own home to collect insurance. He spent three years in prison.

The Nashua Telegraph reports Stephen was first on a list of people who endorsed Socha’s request for a pardon in 2004. Prosecutors say the 69-year-old Socha sought the pardon so he would not have to pay $1.6 million in restitution. The pardon request was never considered.

The Telegraph also reports Socha donated $1,000 to Stephen’s campaign. Stephen said Socha has served his time and he had no problem with supporting the pardon request.