Obama pardons local lawyer’s clients
WASHINGTON — Two clients of an Urbana attorney received pardons on Friday from President Barack Obama.
Attorney Steve Beckett said he received a call from U.S. pardon attorney Ronald L. Rodgers that Obama had pardoned Jon Kozeliski and Karen Ragee of Decatur.
Beckett said that Kozeliski was the president and Ragee was the vice president Star Silkscreen Design in Decatur.
Both of them were convicted in the early 1990s of felony conspiracy to traffic counterfeit goods.
"They made the mistake of screening some Gucci and other designer sweaters, and they did not have permission to do so," Beckett said.
Kozeliski was sentenced to one year of probation with six months of home confinement and was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine.
Ragee was sentenced to one year of probation with six months of home confinement and was ordered to pay a $2,500 fine.
Since both Kozeliski and Ragee were convicted felons, the convictions prevented them from doing things like applying for a firearms owner's identification card and holding certain offices.
So they asked Beckett, who represented them in the criminal case, to apply for a presidential pardon more than four years ago.
"They contacted me towards the end of President George W. Bush's term, and my recommendation was to do it right at the end of his term," Beckett said.
Beckett said he had to fill out the pardon applications, describe the circumstances of the offenses and tell the life stories of the applicants.
"We also had to give references to show they are good people and contributors to the community," Beckett said.
Since President Bush declined to act on the two applications prior to the end of his term, the applications remained at the White House until Obama approved the pardons this week.
Kozeliski and Ragee are the second and third of Beckett's clients to receive a presidential pardon.
President Bill Clinton pardoned rural Monticello resident Peg Bargon of two misdemeanor wildlife law violations for using found eagle feathers to make a dream catcher that was presented to Hillary Rodham Clinton.