Should 20-Year Old Drug Crimes Block PA Barber From Serving On Council?


In the early 1990s, police in Pennsylvania suspected that Corry Sanders dealt cocaine out of his house, caught him transporting the dope, and, on four occasions, bought a total of $11,400 worth of the drug using an undercover officer. After being busted, Sanders pleaded no contest to various drug charges and criminal conspiracy — including two felonies — and served prison time. He was paroled in 1998. That was the old Corry Sanders, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The new one has stayed out of trouble, owns a barbershop (having learned the trade in prison), is a church deacon and, was elected in November to the McKeesport council.

Whether he will take office is an open question. He faces an uphill struggle. The Allegheny County District Attorney's office argues that the state constitution bars Sanders from serving as a councilman. The constitution forbids anyone convicted of an “infamous crime” — considered by the courts to mean a felony — from serving. Sanders has applied for a pardon, but the state's Board of Pardons has a three-year backlog. Sanders, 45, says, “My life is transparent. I've been putting my story out there for kids and the community to hear. Sometimes you fall. You make a mistake. You get up and you better yourself.” Even prosecutors are sympathetic. “It is unfortunate that this situation has arisen given the fact that Mr. Sanders has put his past indiscretions behind him and, by all accounts, lived an exemplary life since then,” said assistant district attorney Kevin McCarthy.

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