Cuomo’s replacement selects anti-cop, ‘defund the police’ senator as her lieutenant governor

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ALBANY, NY- On Wednesday, August 25th, newly-sworn New York Governor Kathy Hochul chose a strong supporter of the “defund the police” movement to be her lieutenant governor. 

According to reports, Hochul, who pledged to diversity her administration, chose New York State Senator Brian Benjamin, a black Democrat from Harlem, to be her right-hand man.

By choosing Benjamin, Hochul has now balanced her administration with her upstate, Buffalo-area roots and his deep ties to the New York City area.

Benjamin, who was running for state comptroller when he was selected by Hochul, has described himself as progressive and has linked himself to the “defund the police” movement, where he has loudly and publicly supported efforts to defund the New York Police Department (NYPD).

On August 23rd, as the clock struck midnight, Hochul officially became the governor of New York after former-Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned in disgrace amidst allegations of sexual harassment.

In January, Benjamin publicly endorsed defunding the police in a social media post on Twitter. He wrote:

“I support the movement to defund the police because I believe that there are parts of the NYPD budget that are not essential for public safety.”

In an image along with the post, Benjamin wrote in a more formal statement as part of his campaign for comptroller:

“As comptroller, on day one, I will launch a programmatic audit of the $5.42 billion our city spends on policing to make a blueprint for responsibly defunding the NYPD.”

Adding:

“In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement and the growing unrest in our nation, the need for criminal justice reform has never been stronger or more urgent.”

He concluded:

“Our goal must be to use the powers of the office to prioritize more public safety measures, not more law enforcement.”

According to reports, Benjamin has also supported reforms to the parole system and an end to the use of cash bail that critics have blamed for a spike in crime in New York.

The chairman of the New York Republican State Committee criticized Hochul’s selection of Benjamin, also citing his support for the “defund the police” movement. Nick Langworthy said in a statement:

“New Yorkers are being shot, stabbed, raped, robbed, and attached in huge crime surges across our state and Kathy Hochul doubled down on Democrats’ dangerous agenda by appointing a ‘Defund the Police’ radical leftist to serve as her second in command.”

He tweeted:

“This reckless pick proves that she represents a continuation of the same failed policies and underscores the urgency of electing a Republican governor in 2022 who will bring common sense and balances to New York”

Both the former governor and Hochul had called for police reforms during the Cuomo administration, however, neither ever expressed public support or the defund-the-police movement.

Hochul has been firm, stating that she does not support “defund the police” and in her speech on Tuesday, August 24th, she called for partnership with local law enforcement, adding that it is “our time to build trust between communities and law enforcement.”

In his farewell address on August 23rd, Cuomo said that calls to defund police were “misguided” and “dangerous.”

After claiming to have “passed more progressive measures” than any other governor “in the nation,” Cuomo proceeded to distance himself form “some people in my own party, who call to defund the police.”

He stated:

“I believe it is misguided. I believe it is dangerous. Gun violence and crime are savaging inner cities.”

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On last day in office, Cuomo grants clemency to far-left San Fran DA’s convicted cop-killing terrorist dad

August 24th, 2021

ALBANY, NY- During his last hours in office, Governor Andrew Cuomo marked his final day by handing out four sentence commutations and one pardon, including a parole board referral for a 76-year-old man over his role in the deadly 1981 Brink’s armored car robbery.

According to the New York Post, the 76-year-old, David Gilbert, a Weather Underground member, was convicted of three counts of second-degree murder and four counts of first-degree robbery for his role in the crime that resulted in the deaths of Nyack Police Sergeant Edward O’Grady and Officer Waverly Brown.

Gilbert also played a role in the death of 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 has repeatedly lobbied Cuomo for his father’s release. The son of O’Grady, Edward O’Grady III, said in a statement back in February:

“Boudin says that irrespective of whether his father spends more time incarcerated doesn’t bring back his victims. That’s the punishment the state decides to mete out for committing crime.”

He added:

“Of course it doesn’t bring the victims back, but that’s the point. That’s not how our system works. Boudin’s dad is in jail not because of any belief that it would bring my father back, but because he’s committed an irreversible crime.”

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. Cuomo proceeded to praise Gilbert and 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.”

In addition to Gilbert, Cuomo ordered the release of four other inmates, including 68-year-old Greg Mingo who was sentenced in 1983 to serve 50 years to life for his role in the 1980 robbery-murder of a Queens couple.

Mingo’s family had reportedly long vouched for his innocence, blaming his conviction on inadequate legal representation. Cuomo proceeded to praise Mingo as a “dedicated and respected peer counselor” who had gotten his GED and became a certified paralegal while incarcerated.

Another clemency recipient was 62-year-old Robert Ehrenberg, who was serving a 50-to-life sentence after he shot and killed a man during a 1992 robbery. Cuomo’s announcement of Ehrenberg noted that he had graduated from college while in prison and volunteered 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 commutation recipient was 59-year-old Paul Clark, who was convicted of second-degree murder, attempted murder and weapons possession after shooting and killing a 17-year-old at a block party near his home in 1980.

Cuomo also handed a pardon to Lawrence Pen III, the founder of private equity firm Camelot Acquisitions, who had served two years in prison after pleading guilty in 2015 to stealing more than $9 million from investors. In a statement, Cuomo said:

“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 is worthwhile and important. 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.”

He added:

“I thank all the volunteer attorneys representing clemency applicants for their dedication and service to justice.”

Over his 10-plus years in office, Cuomo granted a total of 41 clemency requests. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) blasted the governor’s last orders, tweeting:

“On his way out, Cuomo left more parting gifts for New Yorkers…the release of 5 more murderers onto our streets.”

A week prior to these announcements, Cuomo granted clemency and pardons to 10 convicted felons, three of whom had been jailed for murder. On August 10th, he announced his resignation from office after a report released by the State Attorney General’s Office showed he had sexually harassed 11 women, including nine current and former state employees. 

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Path of destruction continues: Cuomo pardons and commutes sentences of murderers and criminals

August 19th, 2021

ALBANY, NY – According to reports, Governor Andrew Cuomo has commuted the sentences of five prison inmates – some convicted of murder – and issued pardons for five others with offenses ranging from drug convictions to attempted robbery.

These granted pardons and commutations came as the governor approaches his final days in office.

It’s a fairly common practice to see elected officials with the powers to pardon or commute sentences do so in their final days in office when they’re not eyeing down reelection bids.

So it’s with little surprise to see that Governor Cuomo employed his clemency powers before officially resigns from office later in August.

In a press release from August 17th, Governor Cuomo claimed that the 10 individuals granted either sentence commutations or pardons “demonstrated substantial evidence of rehabilitation and commitment to their communities” – which among those afforded sentence commutations (being released early from prison) were convicted murderers.

The list of commutations are as follows:

  • Nehru Gumbs, who was convicted of manslaughter, criminal weapon possession and assault in 2005, was released early from prison after serving over 17 years out of a 25-yar prison sentence. During Gumbs’ time in prison, he reportedly served as a youth counselor at Sing Sing’s Youth Assistance Program and attained his associates degree.
  • Jon-Adrian Velasquez, who was convicted of second-degree murder, attempted murder, robbery, and attempted robbery in 1999, was released from prison after serving over 23 years out of a 25-years-to-life sentence. It was noted that Velasquez attained his bachelor’s degree while in prison and established an anti-gun violence educational program called “Voices From Within”.
  • George Martinez, who was convicted of burglary and attempted burglary, was released from prison after serving 15 years of a 17-and-a-half-year-to-life sentence. Apparently, his noted accomplishments in prison were him being a good cook and cooking for various events.
  • Dontie Mitchell, who was convicted of robbery, criminal use of a firearm and various other offenses, was released from prison after serving 24-and-a-half years out of a 27-to-54-year sentence. Mitchell was cited as serving as a mentor to youths entering the prison system.
  • Richard “Lee” Chalk, who was convicted of second-degree murder, robbery, burglary and criminal possession of a weapon in 1988, was released early from prison after serving 33 years of a 50-years-to-life sentence. Chalk reportedly earned various educational certificates for legal research, food service, sighted guide training, and the Fatherhood & Family Law Program.

Governor Cuomo, as mentioned earlier, also issued five pardons for individuals who have already served their respective sentences in jail and/or prison, which will afford them a clean criminal record moving forward.

What was unique in every one of these pardons, according to the governor’s press release, was that they were all afforded to individuals who were also at risk for deportation due to their prior criminal convictions.

The list of pardons are as follows:

  • James Pamphile, who was previously convicted of bail jumping, assault and attempted assault in 2013, was pardoned due to him remaining crime-free for reportedly 8 years.
  • Ivelisse Castillo, who was convicted of third-degree attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance back in 2001, was granted a pardon after or having been crime-free for over 19 years.
  • Jorge Quinones, who was convicted of third-degree attempted criminal sale of a controlled substance back in 1996, was granted a pardon for being crime-free for 25 years.
  • Miriam Ordonez, who was convicted of third-degree attempted criminal sale of a controlled substance back in 1999, was granted a pardon due to her being 17-years-old at the time of her offense and it later being found that the coffee shop she was working at back then was being run by a drug dealer who was specifically taking advantage of undocumented children.
  • Catherine Valdez, who was convicted of second-degree attempted robbery in 2002, was granted a pardon taking into consideration that she was 16-years-old at the time of the offense.

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Expert says Cuomo still eligible for $50K a year pension for life – even after his resignation

(Originally published August 16th, 2021)

NEW YORK – According to reports, a pension expert says that even after Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation earlier in August due to the mounting controversies around sexual harassment allegations, he’s still eligible for a $50,000 a year pension for life.

As we previously reported here at Law Enforcement Today, Governor Cuomo announced his resignation on August 10th, which will be effective come 14 days after his announcement.

With the numerous sexual harassment claims, with also one criminal complaint having been filed with the Albany County Sheriff’s Office earlier in August, Governor Cuomo said in his August 10th address that his motivation to resign was to avoid government “wasting energy on distraction.”

Recently, the New York Post spoke with pension expert Tim Hoefer, president and CEO of the Empire Center for Public Policy, where Hoefer explained that between Cuomo’s 15 years of state service due to his 11 years as governor and four years as attorney general, he’s eligible for roughly a $50,000 a year pension for the remainder of his life:

“So if you’re wondering, without a felony conviction and several other steps, Cuomo would be eligible for his full pension, at taxpayer expense, for the rest of his life.”

If Governor Cuomo were convicted of a felony, then his pension could be at stake. According to a 2011 law signed by Governor Cuomo himself dubbed the “Public Integrity Reform Act of 2011”, public officials that are convicted of a federal offense “may have their pensions reduced or forfeited in a new civil forfeiture proceeding.”

However, that of course requires a felony conviction and a subsequent proceeding – Governor Cuomo’s mere resigning amid a scandal wouldn’t come close to meeting that bar.

The news of Governor Cuomo’s pension is not resonating well with some of his staunchest critics. Tracey Alvino, whose father was infected with COVID-19 in a Long Island nursing home and later passed away, said she’d only support Cuomo having his pension if he donated it to those harmed during his time in office:

“The only reason I would support Cuomo getting a pension is if he donated it to the harassment victims or the nursing home families whose loved ones died from COVID because of his policies.”

Even if Governor Cuomo didn’t resign and was instead successfully impeached and removed from office, even that scenario wouldn’t create a situation where his pension would be at stake. Erica Vladimer of the Sexual Harassment Working Group believes that is something that needs to be addressed via legislation:

“We need to re-evaluate laws that don’t hold elected officials accountable when they abuse their power.”

“I would support a law denying a pension to a public official who is impeached. I still think Cuomo absolutely should be impeached. Resigning is not accountability.”

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As mentioned earlier, we at Law Enforcement Today shared the news of Governor Cuomo’s resignation as it was first breaking. Here’s that previous report containing his address to the press and reactions from members of his own party. 

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ALBANY, NY – On August 10th, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that he will resign from office, following the damaging report from the state’s attorney general that was released earlier in August that alleged multiple instances of sexual harassment committed by Cuomo.

During an address delivered by Cuomo on August 10th, Governor Cuomo said that his resignation “will be effective in 14 days”, saying that Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will take over as Governor of New York following his exit from office:

“Government operations and wasting energy on distraction is the last thing government should be. I cannot be the cause. New York tough means New York loving. And I love New York and I love you. Everything I have ever done has been motivated by that love and I would never want to be unhelpful in any way.”

“And I think, given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing, and therefore that is what I’ll do, because I work for you, and doing the right thing, is doing the right thing for you. Because, as we say, ‘It’s not about me, it’s about we’.”

During Cuomo’s televised address, where he took no questions, he claimed that his resignation was not meant to provide fodder that he crossed any sort of boundary that would warrant a forcible removal from office – but framed his resignation as being one to avoid distractions from government obligations and excessive spending of taxpayer money on the matter.

Attorney General Letitia James took to Twitter to comment on Cuomo’s resignation, writing the following:

“Today, closes a sad chapter for all of New York, but it’s an important step towards justice.”

“I thank Governor Cuomo for his contributions to our state. The ascension of our Lieutenant Governor, Kathy Hochul, will help New York enter a new day. We must continue to build on the progress already made and improve the lives of New Yorkers in every corner of the state.”

The reactions to Cuomo’s announced resignation have been met largely with support, even by members of his own political party.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio noted the following about the news:

“Make no mistake, this is the result of survivors bravely telling their stories. It was past time for Andrew Cuomo to resign and it’s for the good of all New York.”

New York City Mayoral candidate Eric Adams also chimed in on the matter, saying:

“The governor’s resignation was necessary for New York State to move forward and continue the critical work of our recovery. I look forward to working in partnership with Lieutenant Governor Hochul on the key issues affecting our city and region at this pivotal moment.”

Cuomo’s upcoming replacement, Lieutenant Governor Hochul, said she agrees with Cuomo stepping down:

“I agree with Governor Cuomo’s decision to step down. It is the right thing to do and in the best interest of New Yorkers. As someone who has served at all levels of government and is next in the line of succession, I am prepared to lead as New York State’s 57th Governor.”

Democratic New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie called Cuomo’s resignation a “tragic chapter” in New York’s history, but called it the “right decision”:

“This has been a tragic chapter in our state’s history. Governor Cuomo’s resignation is the right decision. The brave women who stepped forward were heard. Everyone deserves to work in a harassment free environment. I have spoken with Lieutenant Governor Hochul and I look forward to working with her.”

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