Evers issues his first pardons, grants clemency to 4 people

Gov. Tony Evers

MADISON, Wis. (AP/WBAY) - Gov. Tony Evers has pardoned four convicted felons, marking the first time a governor has granted a pardon in Wisconsin since 2010.

Evers signed the pardons during private meetings Monday with the recipients.

Evers campaigned on the promise to reform the pardons board after his predecessor Scott Walker disbanded it and never issued a pardon over eight years.

Evers pardoned Eric Pizer, Kevin Sorenson, Mwangi Vasser and Steven Nichols.

Pizer is now 38 and has a felony conviction from a bar fight he got into when he was 22 and celebrating his return from a second tour of duty in Iraq as a Marine. He requested a pardon so he can start a career in law enforcement. Since his release he earned two associate degrees and apologized to the victim in-person.

Sorenson is 36 and was convicted of selling the drug ecstasy at a party when he was 17. He completed his probation early. Working for the U.S. Air Force as a civilian employee, he earned a master's degree in Military Operational Art and Science from Air Force University and sought a pardon to be eligible for military service opportunities, including volunteering for deployment.

The Reverend Mwangi Vasser is 40 and was 19 when he was arrested for selling cocaine. He received a doctorate in Theology from Emmanuel Bible College in Nashville and wanted a pardon to be a chaplain in the U.S. military. He also hopes to secure better housing and business opportunities.

The 62-year-old Nichols was convicted of felony aiding-and-abetting a burglary when he was 21, stealing alcohol and cigarettes from a tavern. Since his release, he got married, bought a farm which he maintains full-time, travels to horse events and mentors young horse riders and enthusiasts. He asked for a pardon so he can travel to Canada to participate in the Calgary Stampede.

The governor's office points out a state pardon does not clear anyone of the charges against them but restores the rights they lost becoming a convicted felon. Felons on the sex offender registry can't receive pardons.

Copyright 2019 WBAY. The Associated Press contributed to this report.