A bi-coastal barrage of outrage followed Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s last-second gift of clemency for a long-imprisoned ‘70s radical convicted for a botched 1981 Brink’s truck robbery that left two police officers and a security guard lying dead outside a suburban mall.
Weather Underground member David Gilbert, now 76, was behind the wheel of the getaway car on Oct. 21, 1981, when officers Waverly Brown and Edward O’Grady and Brinks employee Peter Paige were gunned down in the bungled $1.6 million armored car heist at the Nanuet Mall.
“Andrew Cuomo belongs in jail with David Gilbert, not given the opportunity to commute dangerous individual’s sentences,” said Larry Ayers, president of the Rockland County PBA. “Despite their families’ grief and our community’s deep sense of loss, good old Andrew believes he should be given an opportunity for parole and to go free.”
Gilbert, serving a sentence of 75 years to life, still requires approval from the state Parole Board to walk free after Cuomo’s clemency decision — one of his last acts in Albany. Gilbert’s attorney Steve Ziedman was elated by the announcement.
“David has an opportunity to make his case to the board,” he said. “An opportunity to live outside the prison walls.”
The newly-unemployed governor’s decision on Gilbert, whose son Chesa Boudin serves as the district attorney in San Francisco, drew the wrath of police on the West Coast as well.
“As Chesa Boudin celebrates the clemency granted to his father by disgraced former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, we remind him that his father’s victims had families & communities that loved him,” the SFPD union chimed in.
An elated Boudin, after promising to keep the officers’ families “in my heart,” cheered the decision that came one day before the scheduled delivery of Gilbert’s grandchild.
“My heart is bursting,” he said.
Gilbert could become the third conspirator in the deadly attack to taste freedom in the new millennium, two years after Weather Underground colleague Judith Clark, was paroled at age 70 while serving the same sentence — a decision also greeted with praise and outrage.
Kathy Boudin was paroled in 2003 after her third hearing before the board.
Cuomo cited Gilbert’s use of his time behind bars to work as as a tutor, a paralegal and in AIDS prevention and education programs. During his prison term, he also earned a GED and paralegal certification — none of which changed the NYPD Police Benevolent Association’s disgust with Cuomo’s decision.
“A disgraceful final act,” the PBA tweeted. “Time for a new era in New York State. Time to put crime victims first.”
The heist was intended to raise funds for the radical group before things went sideways and the three men were shot and killed.
Cuomo commuted the sentences of four other men and and fully pardoned a sixth: Lawrence Penn III, an equity fund manager convicted in 2015 of defrauding investors of $9.3 million. Cuomo noted Penn graduated from the U.S. Military Academy West Point.
The men receiving commuted sentences were Greg Mingo, 68, who served nearly 40 years for his conviction in the 1980 murders of a Queens couple; Robert Ehrenberg, 62, who served 28 years on a conviction for fatally shooting a jeweler during a robbery in Suffolk County; Ulysses Body, 66, who served 35 years of his 50-year sentence for his role in a 1986 murder in Harlem; and Paul Clark, 59, who served 40 years of his sentence for 1980 murder of a Brooklyn cabbie.
Stephen Caracappa, the NYPD detective who arrested Clark, was convicted of killing eight people for the Lucchese crime family.
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