FIRST ON NECN: Mark Wahlberg Seeks Pardon in 1988 Assault Case

The actor says the pardon would be formal recognition that someone can receive public redemption if he devotes himself to a life of good works

Mark Wahlberg is asking Massachusetts to wipe out his decades-out assault conviction, saying that ever since he served time for a 1988 attack that left another man blind in one eye, he has tried to become a "better person and citizen."

The movie superstar, now 43, has filed an application with the Massachusetts Board of Pardons, hoping to get his criminal record erased.

"I am deeply sorry for the actions that I took on the night of April 8, 1988, as well as for any lasting damage that I may have caused the victims," Wahlberg wrote in his pardon application. "Since that time, I have dedicated myself to becoming a better person and citizen so that I can be a role model to my children and others."

Wahlberg says in the application, filed Nov. 26, that on April 8, 1988, he tried to steal two cases of alcohol from a man outside a convenience store on Dorchester Avenue, hitting him over the head with a stick and then punching another man in the face as he fled from police.

Though only 16, he was tried as an adult in Dorchester District Court, in the neighborhood where he grew up the youngest of nine children. He was convicted of assault after being charged with attempted murder and other charges, and he served 45 days in prison.

In his pardon application, Wahlberg, best known for his roles in movies like "The Fighter" and "The Departed," goes on to say that he has spoken "openly and publicly" about his actions on that night over the past 20-plus years.

In his petition, he outlines the incidents that led to his arrest, saying that he attempted to steal two cases of alcohol from a man who was standing outside of a convenience store near his home around 9 p.m. He said he hit the man on the head with a wooden stick, and then ran down the block to evade police. While attempting to avoid police, he said he punched another man in the face.

"I was detained by police a few minutes after that," Wahlberg wrote. "While I was detained, the police discovered that I had a small amount of marijuana in my back pocket. During the incident, I was under the influence of alcohol and narcotics."

In making his case, Wahlberg cites his involvement with charities and good deeds he has done to rebuild his life, including the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation, the Dorchester Boys and Girls Club, the renovation of the Boston-area Parish Gym and the fact that he attends church nearly every day.

"I have not engaged in philanthropic efforts in order to make people forget about my past," added Wahlberg. "To the contrary, I want people to remember my past so that I can serve as an example of how lives can be turned around and how people can be redeemed."

Explaining his reasons for wanting a pardon, Wahlberg says he'd like to be able to get a concessionaire's license to help him with his restaurant businesses, and he'd like to be able to help law enforcement, working with at-risk kids.

"The more complex answer is that receiving a pardon would be a formal recognition that I am not the same person that I was on the night of April 8, 1988," Wahlberg concluded. "It would be formal recognition that someone like me can receive official public redemption if he devotes himself to personal improvement and a life of good works."

"He has set an example he has this foundation which he's had for a long time," said Senior Vice President Wendy Pierce of Solomon McCown, a strategic consulting firm. "Maybe he is trying to expand his foundation, maybe he wants to build a youth center, maybe he just really wants to show his kids that you can clear your name."

It could take some time for Wahlberg to get a response from the state. The Board of Pardons needs to investigate the petition and decide if it warrants a public hearing before it is recommended to the governor who, by that time, will be not Deval Patrick, but Charlie Baker.

If the governor approves, it still needs to get the approval of the governor's council.

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