Governor David A. Paterson today announced that he has pardoned Osvaldo Hernandez, a decorated Army veteran who has served his country in Afghanistan, so that Mr. Hernandez can fulfill his lifelong dream of pursuing a career in law enforcement.
“Osvaldo Hernandez has demonstrated that individuals can turn their lives around and that we need not let our mistakes define us,” Governor Paterson said. “In certain exceptional and compelling circumstances, an individual’s sincere efforts to repay his or her debt to society warrant a grant of this extraordinary relief. I commend Mr. Hernandez for his exemplary military career and am proud to assist him in attempting to further his career in law enforcement.”
On November 22, 2002, Hernandez was arrested after an unlicensed loaded handgun was recovered from his car. At the time of his arrest, Hernandez was twenty years old and working as a private investigator while attending LaGuardia College. Hernandez accepted responsibility for his crime, pled guilty to Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree and was sentenced to a one year term in prison.
After his release, Hernandez enlisted in the United States Army and volunteered to serve in the infantry. Hernandez successfully completed paratrooper training and was deployed to Afghanistan in February 2007, where he served for 15 months. During the course of his military service, Hernandez received a number of commendations and medals, including a Combat Infantryman Badge, two Army Commendation Medals and three Army Achievement Medals. He was honorably discharged in June 2008 and returned to New York City.
Hernandez was recalled to active duty in August 2009, and is expected to redeploy to Afghanistan in January 2010. Hernandez hopes that, upon his release from active duty, he can become a police officer with the New York City Police Department or pursue another career in law enforcement.
Richard A. Brown, the Queens District Attorney, said: “During my many years on the bench, as Counsel to former Governor Hugh L. Carey and now as a prosecutor, I have had the opportunity to review many hundreds of clemency applications. Frankly, I have not seen an application for clemency more compelling. Specialist Hernandez has acknowledged his mistake, turned his life around and served – and continues to serve — his country. He has paid his debt to society and has earned this second chance which will allow him to pursue his dreams of a career in law enforcement. I want to commend Governor Paterson for his actions today in granting clemency to Specialist Hernandez. It is well deserved.”
Major General Joseph Taluto, the Adjutant General of New York, the Commander of the New York National Guard, said: “Specialist Osvaldo Hernandez served honorably and well in the 82nd Airborne Division, earning the trust of his leaders and fellow soldiers, and proving himself in combat. I would be proud to have a soldier like Hernandez serving in my command. I applaud the governor’s decision to give this young soldier a second chance through this action.”