By Lauren Williams
8:37 PM PST, December 27, 2012
Gov. Jerry Brown this week pardoned a Newport Beach man for crimes committed in the 1970s and 1980s and praised him as an example of someone who can turn their life around with philanthropic work.
Thomas George Pfleger, 61, received a pardon for three previous convictions in 1970, 1976 and 1983 for drug-related offenses and second-degree robbery, according to his pardon.
"He is ecstatic, and feels it was a great Christmas present," said Pfleger's attorney, Allan Stokke. "The pardon illustrates the forgiveness part of the Christmas message."
In clearing Pfleger's record, the governor cited philanthropic endeavors, saying Pfleger contributed to child welfare, substance abuse recovery, medical research and wildlife preservation.
Pfleger is one of five Orange County residents cleared by Brown Dec. 24. The governor announced 79 pardons statewide before Christmas.
Pfleger helped found the George T. Pfleger Foundation, which in 1998 established the Pfleger Institute of Environmental Research. The institute is devoted to marine research and education, according to its website.
"Tom is very thankful for Gov. Brown's decision and will continue his charity activities," Stokke said. "He is especially fond of children's charities and any organization which has focus on substance-abuse rehabilitation."
Ex-convicts can apply for a pardon after 10 years of being on parole or probation, if they have demonstrated exemplary behavior following their conviction.
The California Board of Parole Hearings and a majority of the justices of the California Supreme Court recommended Pfleger for the pardon.