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One of the American president’s extraordinary powers is to pardon criminals’ offences and commute their sentences. Barack Obama has been active on that front in the past week, pardoning five people. According to the Chicago Tribune, Obama pardoned a 72-year-old man who was nabbed for a jewelry theft 30 years ago:

A Park Ridge man convicted of transporting stolen jewelry worth about $70,000 nearly 30 years ago said Monday he was surprised to learn he had been pardoned by President Barack Obama.

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Martin Kaprelian, 72, was one of five people pardoned by the president Monday. In a brief telephone interview, Kaprelian said the pardon was “a surprise to me.”

“I really don’t have much to say,” Kaprelian said. “This is a private matter. It’s Thanksgiving time, and I have a lot of gratitude and thankfulness that something like this would happen in my life.”

Obama also pardoned a 34-year-old St. Louis area woman serving a 22-year drug dealing charge. St. Louis Today reports:

Obama commuted the 2001 prison sentence of Eugenia Marie Jennings, 34, of Alton. Jennings was sentenced to 22 years in prison for distributing cocaine. The president ordered her to be released next month, but kept intact her eight years of supervised release.

The commutation was announced Monday as he also pardoned five people convicted of charges ranging from intent to distribute marijuana to running an illegal gambling business. The actions mark Obama’s third set of pardons. He pardoned eight people earlier this year, and issued nine pardons in December 2010.

Jennings was represented by three lawyers with the Washington law firm of Crowell & Moring. None of the three could be reached for comment Tuesday morning.

Jennings was diagnosed with cancer this year and has undergone chemotheraphy treatment. She is being housed in Fort Worth, Texas, in a medical facility within the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

Read more at St. Louis Today
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