With help from supporters, two Nebraskans are pardoned for past crimes

LINCOLN — It took letters from 15 supporters in one case, and a push by a team of people including a prominent Lincoln business owner in another, but the Nebraska Board of Pardons granted pardons Monday for two men for past crimes.

In one case, the board, which consists of Gov. Pete Ricketts, Attorney General Doug Peterson and Secretary of State John Gale, granted a rare exception to its rule that a person sentenced to a 15-year license revocation for drunken driving must demonstrate seven years of no driving, seven years of a clean criminal record and seven years of sobriety before qualifying for a pardon.

In that case, David R. Anthony of Lincoln, who has been sober since 2012, fell about six months short of qualifying under the board’s “7-7-7 rule.”

But the board noted not only his rehabilitation, but also that Anthony fell into a legal “gap” because he was sentenced before a convicted drunken driver could obtain an interlock ignition device and continue to drive. Such an interlock device requires motorists to blow into a device to prove that they are sober before the vehicle can be started and driven. As part of his pardon, Anthony must use such a device until his 15-year revocation expires.

Among those who appeared Monday in support of Anthony was Ed Copple, a Lincoln businessman who has donated to many causes in the capital city. One of his employees is Anthony’s mother. Mothers Against Drunk Driving also provided a letter of support.

In the other case, 39-year-old Todd Schuler of Omaha was granted a pardon for a 2004 crime of theft by receiving stolen property, a felony for which he was sentenced to four years in prison.

Schuler, now the married father of two children, submitted a 61-page application for a pardon, which included letters from several coworkers, teachers and four professors at Creighton University, where he is a part-time student. The letters all stated that Schuler was of good character and worthy of a pardon.

He said he was young and naive back in 2004, when he purchased a car that was later determined to be stolen. When he was stopped by authorities, several weapons in cases were found in the car, including one part of a rifle deemed to be illegal. Federal officials, though, declined to prosecute Schuler on a weapons charge.

“I have turned my life around full circle,” Schuler told the Pardons Board on Monday. He said he had volunteered several hours as a judge at welding competitions and had helped arrange donations of welding equipment from his employer to schools in Omaha, Chadron and Blair.

Schuler said he wanted to restore his right to possess a firearm so he could teach his two daughters how to hunt.