NBA star befriended ex-Arizona clemency board boss
- Article by: BOB CHRISTIE
- Associated Press
- August 23, 2013 - 4:40 PM
PHOENIX — The former head of the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency voted to consider commuting the sentence of NBA player Amare Stoudemire's half brother after developing a personal relationship with the New York Knicks player, records released by the board show.
Jesse Hernandez resigned last week after an internal investigation concluded he repeatedly committed inappropriate behavior toward employees and also promoted a woman he was dating.
The investigation report released Wednesday by the state Department of Administration also shows Hernandez bragged of being befriended by Stoudemire and receiving game tickets from him. The report included a picture of the two that was posted by Stoudemire on a Twitter feed.
Records released Friday by the clemency board show Hernandez voted to move ahead with considering cutting Marwan Williams' 9-year sentence a week after the investigation report was completed and forwarded to Gov. Jan Brewer's office. Two other board members voted against the action and Williams will have to wait two years before applying for commutation again.
Williams was sentenced in 2009 to 9½ years for his role in a botched armed robbery that resulted in the death of a suspected drug dealer.
Gov. Jan Brewer's spokesman says it reviewed the report as quickly as possible before meeting with Hernandez.
"During that meeting, he resigned, and the governor welcomed his resignation," Brewer spokesman Andrew Wilder said in a statement. "The facts revealed in the investigation regarding the Williams case are troubling. Board members should not establish personal relationships with individuals who have interests in front of the Board."
Efforts to reach Hernandez by The Associated Press have been unsuccessful. But he told the Arizona Capitol Times Thursday that Brewer's chief of staff handed him a resignation letter and he thought he was being punished only for dating a staff member.
The newspaper said Hernandez contends fellow board members were angry that he would allow them to be paid only for the hours they worked.
"They weren't working, they were out golfing, at the casinos, doing barbecues," Hernandez said told the paper. The current board chair said that's not true.
Happy Walters, Stoudemire's agent, did not immediately return calls seeking comment from The Associated Press on Friday. But he told The Arizona Republic that while Stoudemire attended the Aug. 12 hearing, he was not aware of him having a relationship with Hernandez and didn't know if Stoudemire provided him NBA tickets.
Hernandez was appointed to the $84,000 a year post last year even though he had no experience in either law enforcement or corrections. He formerly held jobs with Republican groups and with a GOP elected official.
Hernandez told the Capitol Times he never got game tickets from Stoudemire or had lunch with him as the report alleges.
"What tickets I did get, the opera, it wasn't even basketball season," he said.
The case is the second involving a Brewer political appointee's resignation after an internal probe in recent months. The former chairman of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission was the subject of multiple allegations of sexual harassment by state employees and resigned in April.
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