Former New York Democratic Gov. David Paterson on Wednesday evening called on Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance to drop gun charges against Ryan Jerome, a former Marine who unwittingly violated the state’s tough gun laws.
Jerome visited New York City in September with thousands of dollars worth of jewelry that he intended to sell. He brought a gun for protection, mistakenly believing that his Indiana concealed carry permit would be honored in New York.
After voluntarily asking security personnel at the Empire State Building if he could check the gun, he was arrested — for the first time in his life — and spent two days in jail.
The original charges against Jerome would have resulted in a three and a half year mandatory minimum sentence, despite the fact that he had no criminal history.
During an appearance on WOR Radio, Paterson encouraged Vance to drop the charges.
“There is a section of the criminal procedure law,” said Paterson, “where a prosecutor just feels that it’s not in the best interest of justice to prosecute. I would recommend and suggest that they read that section over.”
“I think it’s just unusually cruel for somebody who has no criminal record and served his country as a Marine,” said the former governor. “And I think that makes the case closed.”
Some of the radio program’s callers seemed confused by Paterson’s comments. “Under the law, he’s guilty,” he explained to one of them, “but he shouldn’t be prosecuted.”
Paterson, who received an “F” rating from the National Rifle Association while in office, said that he would pardon Jerome if he were governor and Jerome was convicted.
Attorney Mark Bederow, who is representing Jerome, released correspondence with the district attorney’s office this week, revealing that the government has offered Jerome a reduced charge: a Class A misdemeanor with a $1,000 fine and 10 days of community service. But Bederow and Jerome would prefer that the case be dropped altogether.