Outgoing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo marked his final day in office Monday by handing out four sentence commutations and one pardon. He also made a parole board referral for a 76-year-old man over his role in the deadly 1981 Brink’s armored car robbery.
David Gilbert, a Weather Underground member who was convicted of three counts of second-degree murder and four counts of first-degree robbery for his role in the crime which resulted in the deaths of Nyack Police Sgt. Edward O’Grady, Officer Waverly Brown and Brink’s guard Peter Paige. He was serving a sentence of 75 years to life in prison with no possibility of parole until 2056.
Gilbert’s son, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, had lobbied Cuomo for his release.
Boudin’s mother, Kathy, also took part in the robbery. She pleaded guilty to felony murder and robbery charges and was paroled in 2003.
In his announcement, Cuomo said Gilbert would be referred to the Parole Board for potential release and praised his “significant contributions to AIDS education and prevention programs” as well as his work as “a student tutor, law library clerk, paralegal assistant, a teacher’s aide, and an aide for various additional facility programs.”
Cuomo ordered the release of four other prisoners, including 68-year-old Paul Mingo, who was sentenced in 1983 to serve 50-to-life in the 1980 robbery-murder of a Queens couple. Mingo’s family had long vouched for his innocence, blaming his conviction on inadequate legal representation. The soon-to-be-former governor praised Mingo as “a dedicated and respected peer counselor” who had gotten his GED and became a certified paralegal.
Another clemency recipient was 62-year-old Robert Ehrenberg, who got a 50-to-life sentence after he shot and killed a man during a 1992 robbery. Cuomo’s announcement noted that Ehrenberg had graduated from college while in prison and praised his volunteer work for charity.
The fourth commutation recipient was 66-year-old Ulysses Boyd, who was convicted of second-degree murder in connection with a 1986 killing at a Harlem crack house. The fifth was 59-year-old Paul Clark, convicted of second-degree murder, attempted murder and weapons possession after shooting and killing a 17-year-old at a block party near his Brooklyn home in 1980.
Clark was subsequently convicted of murder and attempted robbery of a cab driver that same year, but denied responsibility and had sought a new trial in that case after it was revealed that he had been arrested by notorious NYPD detective Stephen Carracappa, who moonlighted as a Mafia hitman.
Cuomo also handed a pardon to Lawrence Penn III, the founder of private equity firm Camelot Acquisitions who served two years in prison after pleading guilty in 2015 to stealing more than $9 million from investors.
“The march towards a more fair, more just, more equitable, and more empathetic New York State is a long one, but every step forward we can take it worthwhile and important,” Cuomo said in a statement. “These clemencies make clear the power of redemption, encourage those who have made mistakes to engage in meaningful rehabilitation, and show New Yorkers that we can work toward a better future. I thank all the volunteer attorneys representing clemency applicants for their dedication and service to justice.”
In total, Cuomo granted 41 clemency requests over his 10-plus years in office. Advocates called on his successor, Kathy Hochul, to pick up the pace.
“While our heart breaks for those who did not receive good news today, we double down on our commitment to keep fighting for their freedom,” Release Aging People in Prison Campaign Director Jose Saldana said in a statement. “Despite what happened tonight, the fact remains that incoming Governor Kathy Hochul will inherit an indefensibly racist and brutal prison system and we are hopeful that she will lead our state toward a more humane system of justice for marginalized New Yorkers by using her clemency powers and championing parole reform.”
Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) blasted the governor’s orders, tweeting that Cuomo “left more parting gifts for New Yorkers…the release of 5 more murderers onto our streets.”
Last week, Cuomo granted clemency and pardons to 10 convicted felons, three of whom had been jailed for murder. He announced his resignation Aug. 10 after a report released by the state attorney general’s office showed he had sexually harassed 11 women — including nine current or former state employees — in violation of state and federal law.