2 Las Vegans among those pardoned by Clinton

LAS VEGAS - Two Las Vegans - a prominent jeweler and a former federal drug agent - were among 59 people pardoned Friday by President Clinton.

Clinton pardoned Jack Weinstein, 73, a jeweler who was convicted in 1975 of interstate transportation of stolen jewels, and Ken Hartung, 48, a former Drug Enforcement Administration agent who was convicted in 1986 of committing an illegal wiretap.

Weinstein was busy with holiday customers and couldn't come to the phone, said an employee at his jewelry store.

Hartung was assigned to the DEA's airport detail when a probe by the agency led to his arrest. He pleaded guilty to intercepting a telephone call and was given three years probation.

After learning about the pardon, he said, he phoned the White House and asked to speak to Clinton personally to thank him.

''Of course, they wouldn't let me. But I'm glad he did it,'' he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

''I was guilty (of the charge). But I felt initially I was right ... But I did violate a rule of law and I shouldn't have done it.''

The narcotics case the officers were building was dropped because it was compromised by the illegal wiretap.

Hartung was released from probation after 15 months and established a successful career as an insurance agent and securities dealer.

''But it's been hard on me for years,'' he said, adding the National Association of Securities Dealers audits him every year because of his conviction.

Weinstein's conviction stemmed from the recovery of stolen jewelry and collectibles worth more than $12,000.

The items were recovered by authorities at the Tower of Jewels, which Weinstein owns, and Las Vegas Loan and Jewelry, which he managed.

Weinstein admitted possessing the items but denied knowing they were stolen from three Kansas City, Mo., jewlery stores. But one of the men convicted of actually robbing the jewelry stores testified that Weinstein knew the jewels were stolen.

The longtime jeweler remained prominent in Las Vegas social and business circles.

A pardon releases a person from criminal punishment.

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