Knoxville entrepreneur among 140 pardoned by Trump

Published: Jan. 20, 2021 at 7:44 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 20, 2021 at 8:01 AM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - President Donald Trump pardoned more than 140 people, including a Knoxville entrepreneur, during his final hours in office.

Josh Smith, founder of Master Service Companies in Knoxville, was among the individuals granted a full pardon by Trump.

Trump granted pardons to 73 people and commuted the sentence of 70 others, according to a White House press release.

Officials said Governor Bill Lee, Representative Tim Burchett, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Corrections Tony Parker and Director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation David Rausch support Smith’s pardon.

“Today is a day of redemption that I attribute to God’s grace,” said Smith. “God rescued me in prison, and I have spent every day trying to help others who need transformation.”

Smith was removed from his home at the age of 11 due to abuse and was convicted of 10 felonies by the age of 16.

In 1998, Smith began a 5-year sentence in a federal prison camp in Kentucky for his involvement in marijuana and cocaine trafficking.

After leaving prison, and with the help of business mentors, Smith started a residential service company known as Master Service Companies that would become a $30 million enterprise and one of the largest foundation and waterproofing services in East Tennessee. Many of the companies employees were ex-offenders.

In 2019, Smith sold his businesses and used the funds to found 4th Purpose, a prison reform nonprofit. The foundation aims to transform the lives of prisoners and their families through training, workforce development, and other re-entry programs.

“Since his release from prison in 2003 for conspiracy to possess drugs with intent to distribute, Mr. Smith has dedicated his life to his faith and to his community. He is now a successful businessman and has used his financial success to establish Fourth Purpose, a non-profit organization devoted to making prison ‘a place of transformation,’” a White House press release said.

Smith has reportedly mentored incarcerated individuals and taught business classes to those in prison—including at the prison where he was incarcerated.

Since leaving prison, Smith has spent 15 years actively involved in criminal justice reform in Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, and countries in Central America. In 2019, Smith was also named to Gov. Lee’s Tennessee Criminal Justice Investment Task Force.

“Today is a day of redemption, but my work is not done,” said Smith. “There are a lot of Josh Smiths in prisons across our country, and I am going to help as many as possible find a new purpose.”

Individuals who are granted a pardon will have certain rights restored, including the right to vote, hold state or local office and sit on a jury.

For a full list of individuals pardoned by Trump, click here.

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