Union: Parole board that authorized cop killer's release broke law
The union is trying to use this alleged misstep to demand a new hearing for Herman Bell, who was convicted in the slaying of two officers
By Thomas Tracy
New York Daily News
NEW YORK — State parole board members who authorized three-time cop killer Herman Bell’s release never reviewed the minutes of the four-decades old sentencing before making their decision — a clear violation of the law, the city’s largest police union charged Wednesday.
The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association is trying to use this alleged misstep to demand a new hearing for Bell, who is expected to be released from prison next month.
Bell, 70, along with Anthony Bottom and Albert Washington, were convicted of executing Police Officers Joseph Piagentini and Waverly Jones after luring them to the Colonial Park Houses — now the Rangel Houses — on W. 159th St. with a bogus 911 call on May 21, 1971.
The three men were members of the Black Liberation Army at the time.
Jones was shot in the head and died instantly, but the three suspects took their time with Piagentini — shooting him 22 times.
Piagentini begged for his life before the end, telling Bell and his cohorts that he had a wife and two children at home.
PBA President Pat Lynch said by not reviewing the minutes from his 1979 sentencing, the board’s actions invalidated Bell’s release.
Both criminal procedure law and executive law requires that the board “obtain and consider” the recommendation of the sentencing court, Lynch said.
“This parole panel has clearly violated the law by granting the release of three-time cop-killer Herman Bell without having reviewed all of the information required by statute,” Lynch said in a statement.
“This board did not consider the most damning and serious information regarding the commission of this heinous crime.”
If the board reviewed the minutes, they would have learned that the sentencing judge demanded that Bell be incarcerated “as long as legally permissible.”
Attorney William Mogulescu, who represented one of the three defendants, is also allegedly quoted in the minutes, calling the suspects as “beyond rehabilitation.”
“There is no question of that because they feel unless our society is restructured and overthrown, that there is no justice, that there is no hope, that there is no way,” Mogulescu is quoted, according to the PBA.
While reviewing Bell’s case, the board did read a letter from the sentencing judge, state officials said.
And since ordering Bell freed, the board has read over the minutes, but the document didn’t change their position.
The union has been calling for a new parole hearing for Bell since the board ordered his release earlier this month.
While Piagentini’s family is demanding that Bell spend the rest of his life in prison, Jones’ family is split.
The officer’s son wants Bell released, while Jones’ siblings want him to remain in prison.
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