Community leaders urge pardon for Columbus father, 30 years after his crimes

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A local father says he has paid for his crimes, and deserves the chance to write a new chapter.

Mickey Tate was convicted of drugs and gun charges 30 years ago. It happened after the death of his father. Gripped by grief he couldn't process, he turned to drugs.

"It was heart-wrenching. I've always been a strong person. Always had a good life. Always was a happy person. Here's a time when I've got something i can't control. It's got me," he said.

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In 1989 he was convicted on gun and drug charges.

A judge ordered him into treatment, with the possibility of seven years prison over his head if he failed.

"The judge gave me an opportunity by sending me to drug treatment. When I went to drug treatment there were 45 guys in the room. The instructor walked in and said statistics say only one out of you 45 are gonna stay clean. And I said, 'That's gonna be me.' And I haven't had anything since."

After successfully completing treatment and probation, he became a father.

"That was the most rewarding thing in my life. First time I seen somebody's eyes that was like mines, I just went crazy. I laid in the bed with him and cried. That's how stupendous it is. That's how remarkable it is to have a child."

He speaks with pride of his children and what they're accomplishing.

"I got three kids in college. My daughter works for Chase. I got two in high school and they're gonna go to college, you know?"

Along with his own children, he has coached and guided countless others over the years, sharing his mistakes, and his message.

His impact was evidenced by letters of support written on his behalf, from Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien, former state lawmaker Jim Hughes, and many others.

They describe him as "an asset to the community," and an "exemplary citizen."

Armed with that support, his friend and attorney John Alden urged him to seek a pardon.

"Mickey has paid dearly for two weeks or four weeks of doing some stupid stuff with drugs. I think it's only right that he gets to put that behind him," Alden said.

Tuesday Tate went before the Ohio Parole Board and asked for clemency- legal forgiveness from the state- and a chance to escape the long shadow of his biggest mistake.

"I built my own gym in my garage and was a personal trainer. I drive Uber. I referee basketball. I do what I have to do to survive. Whether it be the state or the city or the school board, I worked for the schools they came and told me you can't work here, you got a record."

He says it's not about his pride, but about providing for his family.

"I think I have walked the walk, I've done everything they asked me to do. I just want to have an opportunity to do better for my family. It's about having the opportunity to do better."

During Tuesday's hearing, the Parole Board questioned Tate about an outstanding warrant from a zoning violation in 2001.

Tate and his attorney said they were not aware of the warrant but said they would resolve it with the court.

Because of that, the Parole Board delayed its vote on Tate's pardon request.

Once the Board votes, its recommendation goes to the governor, who has the final say.