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Drug Smuggler May Be Admitted to Bar

<i> Associated Press</i>

A convicted drug smuggler who got a law degree while serving out his sentence by running an AIDS hospice is just one step away from becoming a practicing lawyer.

The five-member state Board of Bar Overseers unanimously recommended that Harvey Prager be admitted to the bar. The final decision is up to Massachusetts’ Supreme Judicial Court, which could act this week.

“The public interest would be ill-served if we refused to recognize rehabilitation when it is adequately proved,” the board said in its report, delivered Thursday to the high court.

Prager “testified convincingly to the deep impression and chastening effect” of running the hospice, the board said.

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Prager, 47, pleaded guilty in 1988 to federal charges of masterminding the shipment of 11 tons of marijuana.

He served a five-year sentence that required him to care for AIDS patients in his home in Portland, Me. At the same time, he attended law school at the University of Maine and earned a clerkship with the Maine Supreme Court.

Prager, who now lives in Cambridge, Mass., passed the state bar exam but had to go before the Board of Bar Overseers because of his criminal record.

Portland’s police chief and others had opposed his bid to practice law, some arguing that it would make a mockery of the profession.

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