NEW YORK (AP) — Hotelier and real estate developer Ian Schrager says his presidential pardon will bring important closure for him and his family.
Schrager was sentenced in 1980 to 20 months behind bars for tax evasion. He was accused of hiding money from his celebrity hangout, Studio 54 — concealing some of it in trash bags and ceiling panels.
Schrager spoke to The New York Times (http://nyti.ms/2k7goS0) about the pardon he received Tuesday from President Barack Obama. The pardon sets aside his felony conviction and restores his civil liberties, including voting, but doesn't erase his criminal record.
He managed to bounce back in the business world, and he's largely credited with starting the boutique hotel trend.
"I was able to overcome everything by being tenacious and, I suppose, relentless, and having successful products," he said.
Schrager recalled driving to Virginia to get a credit card because banks in New York wouldn't do business with him. He couldn't get a liquor license for his first hotels in Manhattan. At airports, he was detained for questioning when re-entering the country.
The pardon, which he applied for in 2012, "wasn't something that I needed to continue business," he said. "I wanted it for closure. I wanted it for my family."
Knowing that his son, who's 6, would grow up and learn about what he had done pushed Schrager to pursue a pardon.
"It's hard to be a good example for your kids when you did something like what I did, and you try to teach your kids to live by the rules and be an upstanding person," said Schrager, 70.
"It happened when I was young enough, and thank God, having lost everything, I didn't lose my enthusiasm for life," he said. "Either I was just going to give up, or dust myself off and put my head down and just try and recoup everything that l lost."
"Some of it you can't recoup," he added. "I'll always have the scar."
Information from: The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com