By Dean Balsamini and Carl Campanile
January 1, 2017
Gov. Cuomo made a merciful decision by commuting the 75-year-to-life sentence of convicted terrorist Judith Clark for her role in the deadly 1981 Brinks heist, supporters hailed on Saturday — as critics continued to blast the decision as a mockery of justice.
Clark, 67, has served 35 years for her role as the getaway driver in the brazen daylight heist that shocked the nation. Under her previous sentence, she would not have been eligible for parole until she was 106.
But she may now go before the parole board to petition for her release early this year.
“I was extremely impressed with his understanding. This was a character test. This was harder than getting the same sex marriage law passed,” said Allen Roskoff, founder of Candles for Clemency, the group that campaigned for Cuomo to commute Clark’s sentence.
“Gov. Cuomo is the king of mercy,” he added.
Roskoff said he broached the subject during a personal “heart to heart” meeting with Cuomo during the Democratic Party convention in Philadelphia over the summer.
He said Cuomo made a promise then that he would go the Bedford prison and meet with Clark, which he did.
But Michael Paige, whose father, Brinks security guard Peter Paige, was killed in the $1.6 million holdup, was not impressed.
“For Gov. Cuomo to even think of commuting the sentence of a triple murderer who murdered police officers and my father — that, to me, is the gravest form of injustice to these three men, who were killed standing their ground and protecting us,” Paige said.
Less than an hour after Paige’s killing, Nyack Police officers Waverly Brown and Sgt. Edward O’Grady were slain in an ambush.
“Shame on the governor for choosing some perverted sense of political correctness over the lives of our men and women in blue,” Rockland County Executive Ed Day posted to his Facebook page. Day called the commutation “a vicious slap in the face” saying the blood of O’Grady, Brown and Paige will be on (Clark’s) hands until the day she dies.”
“They didn’t even have the courtesy to tell us they were doing this. I learned this from a Facebook post and so did my mother who is Eddie’s sister,” a furious John Hanchar told The Post. Hanchar, 47, is a Rockland cop who patrols the same sector where his uncle was murdered some 35 years ago.
Hanchar, who was 12 at the time of the killing, considered O’Grady his second dad.
“I believe and so do others involved in the investigation, there were other murders and accomplices who were involved that were never caught, she knows who they are and she refuses to come forward. So any claims of rehabilitation or remorse ring hollow and Cuomo was fooled…”If governor Cuomo wants to talk about being tough on terrorism, he has to be tough on all of them, including home grown ones.
Sergeants Benevolent Association President Ed Mullins also hammered Cuomo, calling the move a “complete travesty of the justice system.”
“I can’t imagine what Gov. Cuomo was thinking when he made this decision, but it’s a slap in the face to the law enforcement community,” Mullins said in a statement.”It will not be forgotten by those who are paid to protect and serve, often with little or no support from elected officials.”
Kimberly Teresa O’Grady said in a Facebook post Saturday that Cuomo’s controversial decision and the subsequent media reports have relegated her dad to the anonymous “murdered cop #1.”
“It wasn’t until I arrived at the 16th paragraph that I even read my dad’s name. It seems he’s become a mere footnote to these recurring stories; murdered cop #1. And I hate that… “So, read this instead: Ed O’Grady was my dad, and the very best one imaginable. He was kind and caring and an all around GOOD guy. He was always happy and always had a giant, goofy smile on his face…a smile I’m told I inherited. Thanks, pop!”
Clark’s lawyer, Steven Zeidman, told The New York Times that his client understands the Cuomo decision is “ painful and difficult for those who lost loved ones that day.”