WASHINGTON – President Obama has granted the first pardons of his presidency to nine people convicted of crimes including possessing drugs, counterfeiting and even mutilating coins.

No one well-known was on the list, and some of the crimes dated back decades or had drawn little more than a slap on the wrist in the first place — such as the Pennsylvania man sentenced in 1963 to probation and a $20 fine for mutilating coins. The White House didn’t explain the charge, but tampering with federal currency is a crime.

The White House declined to give details on the cases or comment on why these people were selected by a president who previously had only pardoned Thanksgiving turkeys.

Presidential pardons often come in the holiday season and can sometimes be very controversial, such as when Bill Clinton pardoned fugitive financier Marc Rich at the end of his presidency.

President George W. Bush drew heat for commuting the sentence of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, in the case of the 2003 leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity. But Bush rejected Cheney’s vigorous urging that he later pardon Libby as well.

Obama has received 551 pardon petitions, of which he’s denied 131, according to the Justice Department. Another 265 petitions were closed without presidential action.