Former Navy SEAL pardoned by North Carolina governor

A former Navy SEAL and State Department contractor was recently granted a pardon by North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory for a crime to which he pleaded guilty in 1974.

Richard Allen Brown, then 18, pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute and received a five-year suspended sentence and a fine, according to McCrory's office.

He asked the governor's office if he could be pardoned, said Ryan Tronovitch, McCrory's deputy communications director.

The request was sent to the governor's clemency office, which was reviewed by legal officials before McCrory approved Brown's request this month, Tronovitch said.

McCrory decided to grant an unconditional pardon based on Brown's service to his country, Tronovitch said.

Brown's suspended prison sentence was terminated early when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy in November 1975. He served in the Navy -- for some time as a SEAL, according to The Associated Press -- for 30 years, retiring in 2005 as Master Chief Petty Officer, according to the governor's office.

After leaving the Navy, Brown worked as a private contractor for the State Department's Antiterrorism Assistance Program and the Department of Homeland Security.

Brown, 58, currently lives in Panama City, Fla.

McCrory also granted a pardon to Linwood Paul Britton, 52, of Edenton. He pleaded guilty to armed robbery in 1979 when he was 17.

Tronovitch said these are the only two pardons McCrory has granted since becoming governor.

“These pardons weren’t just granted, they were earned,” McCrory said. “Paul Britton and Richard Brown paid for their mistakes, turned their lives around and have made significant contributions to our community and nation. They are a testimony to everyone that has been convicted of a crime that it’s never too late to turn your life around.”

The pardons will restore citizenship rights that are lost when an individual is convicted of a felony.

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