MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — A Republican seeking the top law enforcement job in Vermont says the five years he spent in prison for stealing more than $100,000 from financial clients transformed his life, inspired him to help other inmates and seek criminal justice reform.

Janssen Willhoit, a St. Johnsbury defense attorney and state lawmaker, is running against incumbent Attorney General T.J. Donovan, a Democrat.

Donovan, who had his own brush with the law as a teen, says Willhoit was pardoned and his past is a nonissue.

Seven Days first reported Donovan was charged with assault in a fight when he was 18. He was put on probation and the charge was later expunged. Donovan says that it was a wake-up call and he believes in second chances.

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