New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been slowly sinking in his own personal purgatory lately, beset by the corruption trial of a former close aide and a primary challenge from the Left by actress Cynthia Nixon. Things got worse last week when news emerged that a Cuomo-appointed parole board was freeing cop killer Herman Bell.
The news sent a shock wave across New York. Bell was one of three members of the radical Black Liberation Army responsible for the brutal 1971 slaughter of two New York City police officers, Joseph Piagentini and Waverly Jones. Judicial Watch told the story when Bell came up for parole in 2014. Piagentini and Jones were ambushed at a housing project in Harlem, lured there by a fake 911 call. (Readers of Investigative Bulletin will recall a fake call, a year later, lured NYPD Patrolman Phillip Cardillo to his death in Harlem.) Jones died immediately in a hail of gunfire. Piagentini took longer to die, pleading with his killers that he had a wife and daughters at home. They showed him no mercy, firing twenty-two bullets into his body.
Justice caught up with Herman Bell in 1973 and he has been in prison ever since. For decades, he insisted he was innocent. His story began to change only when it became obvious that he would never escape prison without accepting responsibility for his crimes. But as late as a 2012 appearance before the parole board, he still insisted he was “a political prisoner.”
In an appearance before the parole board this year, Bell took a different position. “There was nothing political about the act, as much as I thought at the time,” he said. “It was murder and horribly wrong.”
Bell will walk free in April and there appears to be little anyone can do about it. Political leaders and police unions have bitterly protested the move, aiming much of their wrath at Cuomo. The governor claims he is powerless to reverse the parole board’s decision. But Cuomo’s appointees, noted the New York Post, “have been much more parole-friendly than their Republican-appointed predecessors.” That’s an outrage. And it’s contributing to Cuomo’s deepening electoral problems.
Micah Morrison is chief investigative reporter for Judicial Watch. Follow him on Twitter @micah_morrison. Tips: firstname.lastname@example.org
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