Hillary Clinton attended a fundraiser on Thursday evening at the New York City home of John Zaccaro, who was convicted on felony drug charges after he sold cocaine to an undercover cop.
Zaccaro, the son of failed Democratic vice president candidate Gerraldine Ferraro, became the subject of national attention in the 1980s when he was charged with selling drugs at Vermont’s Middlebury College.
Zaccaro’s family lawyers requested that the charges be dismissed, but it was an uphill climb due to the overwhelming amount of evidence collected by police.
Zaccaro, 22 at the time, made the mistake of selling cocaine to an undercover police officer. A search of his house following the arrest uncovered various additional drugs and equipment such as electronic scales used by drug dealers.
Students at Middlebury claimed that Zaccaro was known as “the Pharmacist” on campus.
Lawyers for Zaccaro argued that it was entrapment, claiming that it was a pretty policewoman that convinced him to make the cocaine sale.
The argument failed. Despite pleas sent to the judge from many politically connected Democrats, including Ferraro’s running-mate Walter Mondale, a Vermont judge handed down a four month prison sentence to Zaccaro.
Many in Vermont came away upset at how much leniency was showed to Zaccaro—he was allowed to spend his prison term in a $1,500-a-month luxury apartment, equipped with a maid service and cable. It was advertised by the building as having the advantages of living in a hotel.
The prosecutor in the case complained that Zaccaro was living better in prison than “99.9 percent” of people.
“This guy is a drug felon and he’s living in conditions that 99.9 percent of the people of Vermont couldn’t afford,” said Vermont prosecutor John Quinn.
It was such an outrage that Vermont’s Democratic governor at the time, Madeleine Kunin, asked that the program that allowed Zaccaro to serve his prison term at home be reviewed by the state.
“We have to send a very strong message to drug dealers,” said Kunin.
Even after Zaccaro’s term was served, his lawyers fought to get his charge reversed and clear him of a criminal record. Justices on the Vermont Supreme Court voted unanimously to reject that motion.
Despite the fact that Zaccaro remains a convicted felon, he has managed to establish himself as a go-to fundraiser for Democrats.
He was a member of Ready for Hillary’s national finance council, contributing $5,000 to the group in 2014. He has been making consistent political contributions to Hillary Clinton since her 2000 Senate campaign, and has made nearly $100,000 worth of political contributions to Democratic candidates and groups over the years.