INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Former Gov. Mitch Daniels is defending his decision to
grant a pardon to the nephew of a high school friend convicted on drug
charges in 1997.
Daniels pardoned Anthony Nefouse in December, a month before leaving office
and taking over as Purdue University’s president. It was one of 62 pardons
he granted during his eight years as governor.
The Nefouse case, however, raised some unusual circumstances. Nefouse was
the nephew of a Daniels high school classmate; his uncle had contributed
$13,000 to Daniels’ campaigns. And a former Daniels administration cabinet
member submitted the petition and testified at the pardon hearing.
Nefouse, now 37, pleaded guilty in 1997 to conspiracy to deal in cocaine, a
Class B felony, and received a 12-year suspended sentence with six years of
He has never committed another crime and has worked at his father’s
Indianapolis health insurance company. He and his wife have two sons.
But the felony conviction meant he couldn’t volunteer and participate in
some of his sons’ activities. It also prevented him from being certified as
a financial planner or obtaining a real estate license.
“Just because you’re a stupid kid it doesn’t mean it has to haunt you the
rest of your life,” Nefouse told The Journal Gazette.
He prepared his petition for a pardon and got a hearing in early 2012. The
parole board voted 3-0 to recommend Daniels grant the pardon.
Daniels said he recognized Nefouse’s name. He graduated from North Central
High School in Indianapolis in 1967 with Anthony’s uncle. The former
governor later met Anthony’s father, Lonnie, who contributed $3,000
personally and $10,000 from his company to Daniels’ campaigns between 2003
and 2008. Anthony gave Daniels $300 in his first race for governor.
Daniels said he wasn’t aware of the contributions but noted that knowing
Anthony Nefouse’s uncle made his decision more difficult.
“It worked against him that I knew someone in his family. Honestly if he was
someone I never heard of it would have been straightforward,” Daniels said.
“I deliberated a long, long time and finally decided it was the right thing
The petition for pardon was filed by Mickey Maurer, a longtime Nefouse
family friend who served as president of the Indiana Economic Development
Corp. and secretary of commerce for two years.
Maurer testified at Nefouse’s sentencing hearing and predicted he would
become a contributing member of society.
“I was correct. He has been a success in every endeavor: husband, father,
business person and member of society,” Maurer wrote the parole board. “I
implore you to grant this pardon.”
Nefouse’s felony charge was one of the highest-level offenses for which
Daniels granted pardons. Only 11 of his 62 pardons were drug-related. Only
three - including the Nefouse case - involved selling drugs.
Daniels said the Nefouse case met the standard for a pardon “in every
“The question is, ‘Are you going to penalize someone because of his name?’”