LOS ANGELES -- President Donald Trump has pardoned Pat Nolan, a former Republican state legislative leader in California who spent years in prison after being convicted in the "Shrimpscam" FBI sting in the 1990s.
Nolan, who was elected to the Legislature in 1978 and served as Assembly GOP leader from 1984 to 1988, was secretly videotaped accepting checks from an undercover FBI agent in what would become one of Sacramento's most notorious political corruption cases. He was charged with using his office to solicit illegal campaign donations.
In a statement released Wednesday evening, the White House characterized Nolan's decision to plead guilty as "a difficult choice."
"He could defend himself against the charges of public corruption and risk decades in prison, or he could plead guilty and accept a 33-month sentence," the statement read. "Determined to help his wife raise their three young children, Mr. Nolan chose to accept the plea."
The White House statement announcing the pardon said Nolan is "uniformly described as a man of principle and integrity."
After leaving prison, Nolan became a prominent conservative voice on criminal justice reform, serving as president of Justice Fellowship, a Virginia-based group that has advocated for sentencing reform.
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"If seven out of 10 patients left a hospital but had to go back because they were still sick, we would find another hospital. Yet California has not reformed the way we prepare inmates. Instead, we just build more prisons," Nolan wrote in a 2006 op-ed in the Los Angeles Times.
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