June 22, 2018
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Obama pardons Maine woman for 1996 drug crime

KEVIN LAMARQUE | REUTERS
KEVIN LAMARQUE | REUTERS
President Barack Obama holds his final press conference on Wednesday at the White House in Washington, D.C.
By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff
Updated:

A Windham woman convicted more than 20 years ago of a federal drug crime was one of 64 people pardoned Tuesday by President Barack Obama.

Jennifer Lynn Smith, formerly known as Jennifer Hanscom, was the only Maine resident pardoned, according to a list published by the Washington Post.

The president Tuesday also commuted the sentences of 209 people, none of whom live in Maine.

Efforts to reach Smith were unsuccessful Wednesday.

She is the second Mainer pardoned by Obama. Last month, the president pardoned a well-respected midcoast fisherman for a crime he committed more than 30 years ago. Robert S. “Bob” Baines, 60, of South Thomaston was convicted in 1986 of being part of a marijuana distribution conspiracy that netted him a six-year federal prison sentence.

Baines said that the clemency process took about two years, involved interviews with FBI agents, a background check and required letters of support from people who had known him for many years. The applications, letters of support and recommendations concerning applications for clemency, also known as a pardon, are not public documents, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Hanscom, now Smith, was sentenced on Jan. 24, 1997, at the federal courthouse in Portland to five years in federal prison for possessing with the intent to distribute and aiding and abetting the possession with the intent to distribute a schedule II controlled substance, cocaine.

According to information on the U.S. Bureau of Prisons website, a Jennifer Lynn Hanscom, now 41, was released on Feb. 2, 2000. The site does not offer other information about why she was incarcerated or from what facility she was released. It could not be confirmed Wednesday that the woman released in 2000 is the same woman charged in 1996 or the one pardoned Tuesday.

Documents in Hanscom’s case can not be accessed through the court’s electronic case filing system because it is so old. But the docket sheet, which lists when the case was opened and when documents were filed, including her pardon, can be accessed through the electronic system.

That docket information shows that Hanscom was arrested on May 1, 1996, along with three co-defendants — John R. Collins, Richard D. Devlin and Grace E. Sheloske. All faced the same drug charge Hanscom did, and all pleaded guilty.

Hanscom was released on $5,000 unsecured bail five days later. She waived indictment and pleaded guilty on July 18, 1996, and was released on the same bail pending sentencing. Her bail was revoked on Oct. 4, 1996, and she was held without bail for about 3½ months until she was sentenced. That time would have been applied to her sentence.

Given the good time she might have earned while incarcerated, the Jennifer Hanscom released most likely is the same woman pardoned Tuesday by Obama. A search of the site found no other Jennifer Hanscoms.

Hanscom’s co-defendant Devlin died on April 14, 2003, before completing his sentence of 15 years and eight months, which was imposed Oct. 31, 1996, according to information from the Bureau of Prison’s website.

Collins, now 56, was sentenced to 13 years and four months to be followed by five years of supervised release. He was released from prison on Dec. 10, 2007.

Sheloske, now 43, was sentenced to 3½ years in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release.

Information about where they lived when they were arrested in 1996 and where they live now was not available Wednesday.

BDN writer Nick McCrea contributed to this report.

 


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