Trump pardons Pollard's handler and former aide Stephen Bannon

Trump issues pardons and commutes sentences for 143 people, including Israeli spy, Lakewood scam artist, Nachshon Wachsman's cousin.

David Rosenberg , | updated: 9:11 AM

President Donald J. Trump
President Donald J. Trump
Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour

President Donald Trump issued 73 last-minute pardons and commuted 70 sentences early Wednesday morning, hours ahead of the transition of power, marking the end of the Trump White House.

Among those pardoned were former Trump strategic advisor Stephen Bannon, who received a full pardon.

“Prosecutors pursued Mr. Bannon with charges related to fraud stemming from his involvement in a political project. Mr. Bannon has been an important leader in the conservative movement and is known for his political acumen,” the White House said in a statement.

In addition, Trump granted a full pardon to Israeli spy, Brigadier General Aviem Sella.

Sella, one of Jonathan Pollard’s handlers in the 1980s, was not listed by Israel during its talks with the US, thus leaving him out of the immunity arrangement granted to other Israeli officials linked with the Pollard affair.

He was indicted in absentia by a federal grand jury in 1987, and faced up to life imprisonment and a $500,000 fine.

“Mr. Sella’s request for clemency is supported by the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer, the United States Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, and Miriam Adelson,” the White House said Wednesday.

“The State of Israel has issued a full and unequivocal apology, and has requested the pardon in order to close this unfortunate chapter in U.S.-Israel relations.”

Pardons were also granted to rapper Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., better known by his performing name, Lil’ Wayne, who pled guilty to firearm possession despite having a prior conviction; former Deputy National Finance Chair of the Republican National Committee Elliott Broidy, who was convicted of conspiring to serve as an unregistered agent of a foreign interest; and Noah Kleinman, a 45-year-old father of two serving six years of a nearly 20-year prison sentence for marijuana distribution.

Stephen Odzer, whose cousin, IDF soldier Nachshon Wachsman, was kidnapped and killed by Arab terrorists in Israel in October of 1994, was granted a conditional pardon, which requires that he pay the remainder of his restitution order.

Odzer pled guilty to conspiracy and bank fraud, for which he was sentenced to 18 months in prison. Numerous individuals testify to his substantial philanthropic and volunteer activities. His philanthropic endeavors include providing personal protective equipment to front-line workers in New York City hospitals; visiting sick children in hospitals; and donating religious materials to prison inmates and U.S. Service Members around the world. He has also dedicated resources to support and build synagogues in memory of his late cousin, Nachshon Wachsman.

Hillel 'Helly' Nahmad, a Manhattan art dealer who served four months of a 12-month sentence for gambling was also granted a full pardon. Nahmad owns a floor of Trump Tower.

Among the 70 people whose sentences were commuted was Eliyahu “Eli” Weinstein, a disgraced Lakewood businessman who was in the eighth year of his 24-year-old sentence for real estate investment fraud.

This commutation is supported by former U.S. Attorney Brett Tolman, former Representative Bob Barr, former U.S. Attorney Joseph Whittle, Professor Alan Dershowitz, Representative Mark Walker, Representative Scott Perry, Representative Jeff Van Drew, Jessica Jackson of the Reform Alliance, The Tzedek Association, Dr. Danny Feuer, and numerous victims who have written in support.