Gov. Gavin Newsom pardoned three people to spare them from deportation Friday, arguing they reformed their lives after making mistakes when they were young and should not be sent out of the country.

They are among several clemency actions announced Friday afternoon, including two commutations for people who committed crimes when they were young but were sentenced to what the governor determined were unjustly long sentences, Newsom’s office said.

He also pardoned Curtis Reynolds, a 59-year-old man from Sacramento Country, who was convicted of six drug felonies including possession for sale between 1998 and 2003. Since those convictions, Newsom’s office says Reynolds has become a dedicated volunteer in the community and helps people struggling with addiction.

The three pardoned men facing deportation are all from Los Angeles County and were all brought into the United States legally as children. The pardons will help strengthen their cases to remain in the country.

Victor Ayala, 38, was sentenced to probation in 2001 for robbing an electronics store and pushing the store’s security guard when he was 21. He also had several previous misdemeanor charges. Ayala now runs a carpet cleaning business and faces deportation to El Salvador. His parents brought him legally into the United States when he was 2-years-old, the governor’s office said.

Another man, Arnou Aghamalian, was pardoned for a 1999 conviction for helping set an empty car on fire when he was 22. He now owns a solar energy company. Aghamalian came to the U.S. as a refugee at 15 and faces deportation to Iran.

Newsom also pardoned Thear Sam, 41. Sam was convicted of stealing a man’s backpack and wallet when he was 18 and of aiding a crime the next year by helping a car thief evade the police. Sam came to the United States at age 4 as a refugee fleeing the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.

Newsom also commuted the sentences of Esdvin Flores, 44, who robbed a woman at gunpoint when he was 23 and Jensen Ramos, 35, who shot at a fleeing vehicle when he was 17 but did not injure anyone. The governor’s office noted both men have rehabilitated their lives in prison. The commutations make them eligible to be considered for parole.


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