On this date in 2008, Governor David Paterson of New York gave a full and unconditional pardon to Hip Hop icon Ricky “Slick Rick” Walters for attempted murder and weapons convictions to help him avoid deportation.

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In 1991, Slick Rick plead guilty to two counts of attempted murder and eight other illegal weapons charges for shooting his cousin and another man, leaving him to serve six years out of a ten-year sentence in a New York State Prison. He was released from prison in 1997 and discharged from parole supervision in 2000. Since then, Walters has been fighting deportation for his convictions.

“Mr. Walters has fully served the sentence imposed upon him for his convictions, had an exemplary disciplinary record while in prison and on parole, and has been living without incident in the community for more than 10 years,” Paterson said in a statement on May 23, 2008. “In that time, he has volunteered at youth outreach programs to counsel youth against violence, and has become a symbol of rehabilitation for many young people.”


Paterson urged immigration officials to grant 43-year-old Walters “relief from deportation” so he is not separated from his wife Mandy and their two teenage children.

Under federal law, legal immigrants of the United States convicted of an aggravated felony or a weapon offense must be deported. For certain offenses, deportation can be avoided by a Governor’s pardon, but for weapon offenses, a non-citizen must make an appeal before an immigration court.