It all started with a dumb decision.
“I had a relative of mine talk me into making a pot deal for him over the phone,” said Dave, a 50-something resident of Lancaster County. “He was working for the drug task force at the time. I wasn’t planning to make any money off it. It was more about machoism than money. I should have said no. It was just a dumb call on my part.”
In his early 30s, Dave (not his real name) found himself taking a plea deal and doing six months in Lancaster County Prison followed by 23 months of parole. At the time, he had no idea the impact his crime would have on his life, his opportunities, and worst of all, his family.
“I had to quit driving truck, because I couldn’t go to the ports after 9/11,” Dave said. “You have to have a special card, which requires an FBI background check. No felons are allowed on the docks. That changed my job position and it changed my life.”
Dave discovered he couldn’t go to Canada—another impediment to performing his job duties.
“Felons are not allowed in Canada,” he said. “That’s a tough one, because I sell commodities all over the world. So, when I get invited to Canada to meet some of the people I sell metal to, I can’t go.”
After his kids were born, he learned he couldn’t help them at practice or watch them play games at school.
“You can’t go to a school when you’re a felon,” he said. “That’s ultimately why I went for the governor’s pardon. Because of my family. It’s a ripple effect when you make a mistake. At the time I didn’t think about that. It devastated my mother. People look at your family different. And now, it’s this many years later and it’s still affecting my family. When I took that plea deal all those years ago, I didn’t know all the ramifications that came along with it.”
A Chance at a Second Chance
After 18 years of living this life, Dave wanted a second chance. Another relative (a different one) recommended he speak to Mark Walmer.
“Mark was very professional,” Dave said, “He said I had waited long enough.”
The process wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t quick, but Mark took care of everything.
“Mark got all the paperwork set up for me and told me what I needed to do, like get letters,” Dave said. “I’ve stayed out of trouble since then, so I got letters from business people and family. I wrote letters to the Board of Pardons myself, too. They explained how I changed my life and quit drinking, how I have been taking care of my father recently, and how I’ve raised my kids.”
As part of the process, he was subjected to a site visit from the Board of Probation and Parole.
“They have to come out and meet with you in your home to make sure you’re not falsifying things,” Dave said. “They came out and spoke to me and found everything to be truthful.”
The next step was a hearing before the Board of Pardons in Harrisburg.
“I spoke to the Board by myself,” Dave said. “Mark had everything laid out for me, and it made me confident that I could go up there and speak for myself. He was more than willing to go up, but he felt I didn’t need any help to state my case. I’m a much better speaker than a writer.”
Dave expressed remorse and fielded questions from the Board.
“Everybody makes mistakes in life,” Dave said. “I never tried to deny I knew right from wrong. I shouldn’t have done it. I told them that. But I also told them I paid the price for what I did and that I didn’t feel my family should have to suffer the consequences of my actions years ago.”
And then the wait began.
“You’ve got to be patient,” Dave said. “That’s the big thing. You can’t rush it. And you really want to after you waited that long.”
After getting his pardon just recently, the next step for Dave was getting his conviction removed from his record.
A Bright Future
“I still have to get my record expunged,” Dave said. “When I got my pardon, I thought my expungement would come right away. You always hear people say things, like ‘Oh, you can go right up to the courthouse and get it done for 50 bucks.’ It doesn’t work that way.”
Mark’s handling the expungement process on Dave’s behalf.
“He’s taking care of all that,” Dave said. “There’s a lot more that goes into the expungement paperwork, but the way Mark did it during the pardon process, it overrode a lot of that. He told me the expungement will come much sooner than the pardon did.”
Once his expungement goes through, Dave knows his life will change dramatically.
“I can further myself with my job, but the big thing is my family,” he said. “My son keeps asking me why I can’t go to Canada, and he’s not old enough for me to tell him what happened. Now, because of Mark, I’ll be able to go visit friends I do business with in Canada and take my family with me. My business friends live 40 minutes from Niagra Falls, and we can go there for a vacation and visit them.”
But being able to go to Canada isn’t the only perk.
“I can go to a school and not have to say I’m a felon,” Dave said. “And when they do a background check on me, which they do, it won’t show up. I can go to the ports now, because we sell steel to the ports, and I can go out and inspect stuff at the ports. It just opens up a lot more doors for me.”
Dave said he would recommend Mark Walmer without a second thought.
“He didn’t just take my money to take my money,” he said. “He was very up front with me. He told me there were no guarantees, but he felt very confident I would get a pardon. He was right. I got it.”
Dave says Mark changed his life
“He helped me get my second chance. For that, I’ll always be grateful.”
Are You Eligible for a Pardon?
Just as it did for Dave, Record Eraser can help you determine if you are eligible for an expungement or a pardon. Not sure of your criminal record? Start by checking your record, and when you’re ready, erase your record here.