In a flood of clemency orders before he leaves office, President Obama commuted the sentences of 209 people and pardoned 64 others on Tuesday. The vast majority of offenders had been convicted of drug-related crimes. Two were involved in cases about leaks of government material. And two were cultural stars of past decades who had run afoul of the IRS.
Ian Schrager, the co-founder of the famous nightclubs Studio 54 and the Palladium, who then created boutique hotels, spent a year in prison between 1980 and 1981 and paid a $20,000 fine for tax evasion. His business partner, Steve Rubell, had drawn the attention of federal authorities by bragging that Studio 54 made money second only to the Mafia. The two came out of prison and eventually re-created the hotel industry by making accommodations luxurious and hip. Rubell passed away in 1989. Schrager, whose name is often associated with New York’s gliteratti has said of his jail time, “I made certain mistakes and I paid for them.”
Willie L. McCovey had his troubles with the tax man too. He was once one of Major League Baseball’s most feared sluggers as a teammate with Willie Mays on the San Francisco Giants in the 1960s and 1970s. Nicknamed “Stretch” for his ability to dig out errant throws to first base, McCovey had a .270 career batting average, clobbered 521 homeruns and 1,555 runs batted in. He was inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1986, his first year of eligibility. The water just outside of the Giants ballpark, McCovey Cove, is named for him. Most fans probably overlooked his guilty plea in 1995 after he was accused of not reporting all of the cash income he made from signing autographs at sports memorabilia shows. McCovey was sentenced to two years probation and a $5,000 fine.