Credit: Screen grab
NFL Legend Jerry Rice Praises Trump for Pardoning Iconic 49ers Owner

NFL Legend Jerry Rice Praises Trump for Pardoning Iconic 49ers Owner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — President Donald Trump pardoned former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. for a federal bribery conviction related to an attempt to secure a Louisiana casino license.

With several former NFL players at the White House on Tuesday for the announcement, including Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice, Trump granted DeBartolo Jr. clemency for his 1998 felony conviction by signing an executive order.

“I take my hat off to Donald Trump for what he did,” Rice said at a press briefing.

Jim Brown, Ronnie Lott and Charles Haley also met with Trump at the White House.

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DeBartolo is best known for helping to build the 49ers along with head coach Bill Walsh in the 1980s and early 1990s. His team won five Super Bowl titles during his tenure as owner, and he was selected to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016.

In 1998, DeBartolo Jr. pleaded guilty a felony charge of failing to report that Louisiana’s former governor, Edwin Edwards, had extorted $400,000 from him to win a license for his riverboat casino, the San Francisco Chronicle reported at the time.

He avoided prison in the case, but agreed to pay penalties of $1 million, serve two years of probation and testify in the trials against the former governor and the former governor’s son, the Chronicle reported.

Edwards was convicted of extortion in 2000 in the awarding of the casino licenses.

Beyond Eddie DeBartolo Jr.

Trump pardoned six additional people on Tuesday, including former junk bond king Michael Milken, and commuted the sentence of Rod Blagojevich, the ex-Illinois governor convicted of trying to peddle Barack Obama’s vacated U.S. Senate seat.

Others pardoned include entrepreneur Ariel Friedler, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to access a protected computer; former contractor Paul Pogue, who was accused of tax fraud; David Safavian, the top U.S. government procurement officer who lied about ties to lobbyist Jack Abramoff, himself convicted of bribery; and Angela Stanton, who was implicated in a 2007 stolen vehicle ring.

Trump also commuted the sentences of three women, two convicted on drug charges and one on charges of defrauding the federal government through her healthcare company.

Trump has visibly relished using his presidential pardon power, issuing pardons of late boxer Jack Johnson; Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of an Arizona county, and ex-White House aide Lewis “Scooter” Libby, among others.

He has also raised eyebrows by saying he could pardon himself and declining to publicly rule out pardons for some of his associates who have been sentenced to prison for charges stemming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

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“The pardoning of these disgraced figures should be treated as another national scandal by a lawless executive,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell, a New Jersey Democrat and a critic of Trump’s pardons.

Don’t forget Alice Marie Johnson

Trump also commuted the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, a 63-year-old African American woman whose case was championed by reality television star Kim Kardashian West.

Trump brought Johnson to his annual State of the Union address to Congress last year and featured her in a 30-second campaign ad that was played during the Super Bowl.

(Reporting by Makini Brice and Jeff Mason; editing by Bill Berkrot; other Reuters staff and Field Level Media contributed to this report.)

Cover image: Retired San Francisco 49ers legend Jerry Rice speaks at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 18, 2020. (Screen grab)

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