Mark Wahlberg’s Pardon Plea: A Look Back At His Troubling, Violent, and Racist Rap Sheet

The actor-entrepreneur wants to expand his Wahlburgers fast food chain but is running into licensing problems, so he wishes to be pardoned for his past crimes. But they’re not pretty.

12.07.14 10:45 AM ET

Today, Mark Wahlberg is a model citizen. In addition to being an Oscar nominated actor and Hollywood leading man, the 43-year-old is married, and a loving father to four young children. He even told Howard Stern that he’s so dedicated to his wife (and Catholic faith) that he doesn’t masturbate—ever. Wahlberg is involved in numerous charity causes, from running the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation for at-risk teens, to lending his support to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and The Good Shepherd Center for Homeless Women and Children. The Departed star is also a very savvy businessman, having produced hit shows like Boardwalk Empire and Entourage. Forbes to estimates his net worth at $200 million.

He’s also one of the co-owners of the brilliantly named Wahlburgers, a burgeoning fast food empire with locations in Hingham, Massachusetts, and Toronto. There are deals in place to open 8 more, including three in Las Vegas, and five in Philadelphia, and on Thursday, the company unveiled plans to expand further, opening 27 more locations—20 in Florida, and 7 in New York City—with the hope of eventually operating 300 locations in North America.

In short, he’s no longer the junk-grabbing bad-boy Bahstin rapper whose preface to his 1992 autobiography, Marky Mark, proclaimed: “I wanna dedicate this book to my cock.”

However, Wahlberg says his restaurant chain may potentially run into licensing problems due to his criminal record, which he claims, “can potentially be the bases to deny me a concessionaire’s license in California and elsewhere.” Thus, he filed a petition for a criminal pardon to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick on November 26 apologizing for his past crimes, and hoping to have them stricken from the record.

“I am deeply sorry for the actions that I took on the night of April 8, 1988, as well as for any lasting damage I may have caused the victims,” he wrote in the petition. “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.”

But the crimes Wahlberg committed have no doubt done “lasting damage” to the victims.

Wahlberg grew up the youngest of nine children in a broken home in the rough Dorchester section of Boston. He dealt drugs, was addicted to cocaine by the time he was 13, and found himself constantly in trouble with the law.

One of the first felonies occurred on the afternoon of June 15, 1986. That day, Jesse Coleman, a 12-year-old black boy, and his older brother and sister were walking back to their home in Dorchester. Wahlberg, 15, and three friends began following the group on bicycles, when one of the boys shouted at them, “We don’t like black niggers in the area, so get the fuck away from the area,” according to court documents. The three black kids began running away, and Wahlberg and his friends chased them on their bikes. During the chase, Wahlberg and his friends began chanting, “Kill the nigger, kill the nigger,” while hurling rocks at their victims. Thankfully, the Coleman kids reached a Burger King, and Wahlberg and his amateur biker gang rode off.

But the following day, Jesse and his classmates from Dorchester’s Mather School, along with his teacher, Mrs. Deshales, all traveled to Savin Hill Beach for a class field trip. There, Jesse once again spotted Wahlberg and his friends lurking. As the class was heading back to Dorchester, Wahlberg and his friends once again began “yelling racial epithets” at them and “throwing rocks.” One of the rocks hit Krystyn Atwood, a black girl, and another hit Emily Harr, a white girl. Mrs. Deshales ordered an ambulance, which managed to scare off Wahlberg and his pals. According to court documents, Wahlberg and his crew's actions “have contributed to a high level of anxiety, fear and intimidation on the part of Jesse Coleman, Krystyn Atwood, Emily Harr, Mary Deshales, and others,” who feared that they group would “harm their persons as they attend school, walk on the streets and enjoy public beaches.”

The most violent offense committed by Wahlberg occurred on the night of April 8, 1988. At 9 p.m. that evening, Thanh Lam parked his car and exited the vehicle carrying two cases of beer. Suddenly Lam, a Vietnamese resident of Dorchester, was approached by Wahlberg, then 16, who was carrying “a large wooden stick, approximately five feet long and two to three inches in diameter,” according to court documents. Wahlberg yelled at Lam, calling him “a Vietnam fucking shit,” and then hit him in the head with the stick. Lam was knocked out cold.

Wahlberg fled from the scene and approached a bystander, Hoa Trinh, also Vietnamese. He told him, “Police coming, police coming, let me hide,” and after the cop car passed by, punched Trinh in the eye, rendering him partially blind. Trinh eventually fingered Wahlberg, and the cops arrested him.

Later that evening, Boston police brought Wahlberg back to the scene of the crime where, in the presence of two officers, he looked at Lam and stated, “You don’t have to let him identify me, I’ll tell you now that’s the mother-fucker whose head I split open.” He also proceeded to shout a bunch of racial epithets about “gooks” and “slant-eyed gooks.”

For these two crimes, which occurred two months before his 17th birthday, Wahlberg was tried as an adult, and charged with attempted murder. He eventually pleaded guilty to assault, and was given a two-year prison sentence at Suffolk County Deer Island House of Correction, but was released after serving just 45 days.  

According to Wahlberg, his time in prison, as well as the guidance of a parish priest, helped him turn his life around.

“As soon as I began that life of crime, there was always a voice in my head telling me I was going to end up in jail,” he said. “Three of my brothers had done time. My sister went to prison so many times I lost count. Finally I was there, locked up with the kind of guys I’d always wanted to be like. Now I'd earned my stripes and I was just like them, and I realized it wasn't what I wanted at all. I’d ended up in the worst place I could possibly imagine and I never wanted to go back. First of all, I had to learn to stay on the straight and narrow.”

Years later, in 1992, after he’d achieved fame with his rap group Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch (see: “Good Vibrations”), Wahlberg and his pal Derek McCall beat up Wahlberg’s neighbor, Robert D. Crehan, in an unprovoked attack, according to court documents. They “viciously and repeatedly kicked the plaintiff” in the face and jaw, causing multiple facial lacerations, as well as a fractured jaw, which had to be wired shut.

In addition to Wahlberg’s petition for a criminal pardon for the 1988 offenses, he also told David Letterman a couple of years back that he’s in the process of lasering off all the tattoos he got as a youngster, citing both his career, and the example he’s trying to set for his young children.

But those mistakes only affected him.