Pennsylvania Lt. Governor votes for violent offenders, murderers to be granted clemency


PENNSYLVANIA- Democratic Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, who is also running for a seat in the U.S. Senate in 2022, often touts his role in advocating for the release of harmless, innocent, and less violent offenders.

However, according to a recent report by Free Beacon, a review of Fetterman’s record on commutation cases shows that the Democrat has voted to release violent criminals jailed for their roles in brutal murders. 

As the state’s Lt. Governor, Fetterman leads the five-person Board of Pardons, which among many things, evaluates clemency applications in the state of Pennsylvania.

According to state records, since taking the job in 2019, Fetterman has voted to release more criminals sentenced to life in prison than any other member of the board. His progressive stance on crime and community reintegration often makes him the only board member to vote in favor of releasing a particularly heinous offender. 

One one case, he voted to commute the sentence of Michael Rinaldi, a man with Philadelphia mob ties who planned the killing of Edward Bianculli in 1980. Reportedly, an accomplice shot Bianculli as Rinaldi watched.

The accomplice dumped the victim in a marsh near the Philadelphia airport where the body remained for more than six months. During the September 2020 board hearing, Bianculli’s family heavily opposed Rinadli’s sentence commutation. The family argued that:

“He possesses a serious danger to the community and must not be released into society.”

One day before voting to release Rinaldi, Fetterman also voted to commute the life sentence of 44-year-old James Strapple. In 2000, a Pennsylvania jury convicted Strapple of second-degree murder after he admitted to procuring a gun and luring victim Glenn Ford to a secluded country road.

Reportedly, an accomplice then shot Ford in what local law enforcement described as an “execution style killing.” Strapple proceeded to steal jewelry, a half-ounce of cocaine, and $360 from the victim. No other board member voted to commute Strapple’s sentence.

Clemency requests have exploded under Fetterman after he encouraged criminals sentences to life in prison to apply for commutation in 2019. He continues to argue that anyone who did not “physically” take a life should not serve life in prison.

Fetterman expressed a particular interest in second-degree murderers who participated in a killing, but “did not pull the trigger.” Under current Pennsylvania law, such criminals are sentenced to mandatory life in prison, a punishment that Fetterman says is too strict.

Fetterman’s Board of Pardons tenure could help him court progressives in a competitive Democratic Senate primary that has already moved leftward. National Democrats are relying on Pennsylvania to expand their razor-thin majority in the upper chamber after two-term Republican Senator Pat Toomey announced his retirement effective October 2021.

To back Fetterman’s claim of life imprisonment being too strict for those convicted of second-degree murder, he endorsed a recent Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity study. The study contents that those who commit second-degree murder at age 25 or younger have “almost no likelihood of repeated crimes of violence” after serving two decades of prison time.

However, a U.S. Department of Justice study tracked more than 67,000 state prisoners from 2005 to 2014 and found that more than 75 percent of inmates age 40 or older were rearrested at least once. Manhattan legal policy expert Rafael Mangual told the Free Beacon that:

“The risk does not zero out by the time a lot of these inmates would become eligible for release. There is still quite a high level of recidivism for inmates who are in their 40s and even in their 50s.”

Recidivism issues have plagued Pennsylvania’s Board of Pardons in the past. After board members voted to commute the sentence of Reginald McFadden in 1992, the serial killer went on to murder two people and kidnap and rape a third victim within three months of being released.

After that, Pennsylvania voters went on to raise the board’s approval standard from a majority vote to a unanimous vote, which caused life-sentence commutations to plummet. Fetterman has called McFadden’s actions “unthinkable,” but supports lowering the board’s vote threshold to 4-1.

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Convicted NYPD cop-killer set to be paroled, even though he was sentenced to life in prison

February 19th, 2021

NEW YORK CITY, NY– The parole board that was appointed or reappointed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is releasing yet another cop killer. 

On Thursday, February 18th, it was revealed that one of three suspects who was convicted of shooting and killing an off-duty NYPD officer who was attempting to stop a car jacking in 1980 has been granted parole. 

The Police Benevolent Association took to Twitter to announce that 58-year-old Paul Ford, who was convicted in the August 15th, 1980 shooting death of Police Officer Harry Ryman, is scheduled to be released in March of this year, despite the fact that he was sentenced to life in prison. 

They went on to say in the post that a second man who was convicted in the murder of Officer Ryman was released less than a year ago, and the third man convicted, 59-year-old Cornelius Bucknor, has just been awarded a new parole hearing. 

PBA President Pat Lynch said in a statement Thursday:

“It’s bad enough that this hero family has to live in fear of what might happen when PO Ryman’s killers hit the street.” 

He went on to say:

“But to swallow that fear while they watch their father’s sacrifice be devalued and disrespected by the state of New York — that is cruel and unusual punishment.” 

Kerri Ryman, the granddaughter of Officer Ryman said on Thursday:

“Honestly, it’s unbelievable.” 

She went on to say:

“My heart just breaks for my father and his siblings who have to go through this. It really affects the family.”

Police Officer Harry RymanAn undated photo of NYPD Officer Harry Ryman shared by the PBA on Feb. 18, 2021.PBA

The New York Post reported that Ryman, a 17-year veteran of the NYPD, was home in Brooklyn around 3:40 a.m. when his wife heard the three would-be thieves breaking into a car across the street.

He came outside with his service weapon and exchanged gunfire with the three men. Officer Ryman suffered three fatal gunshot wounds to the chest. 

The three suspects were arrested and all were later convicted.

Ryman was survived by his wife and five children, one of them an NYPD police officer.

A high-ranking police source told The Post:

“They grew up without their father.”

They continued:

“These guys got to have visits with their families. You don’t come back from death.”

It is reported that relatives and colleagues of Officer Ryman have come before the parole board for years in an effort to keep all three of the convicted killers behind bars. With two out of the three being released, and the third with a scheduled parole hearing, it appears that their efforts have not been successful

Phil Ferrante, Ryman’s former partner at the 60th Precinct in Coney Island, said after a 2006 parole board hearing:

“I just told them, ‘Harry didn’t have a chance to see his children grow up, he didn’t have an opportunity to see his children get married, and he didn’t get to see his grandchildren.’” 

The New York Post front page August 14, 1980 covering Ryman's murder.The New York Post front page on Aug. 14, 1980, covering Ryman’s murder.New York Post

According to state corrections officials, Ford had his latest hearing before the parole board on February 9th, and was granted parole.

He is scheduled to be released from the Sullivan County Correctional Facility as early as March 23, according to state officials, The New York Post reported.

The PBA stated in their Twitter post that the board has released 20 cop killers since 2017.

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Cop killer who was originally sentenced to life without parole may now see freedom one day

December 30, 2020

DENVER, CO – In 1995, a police officer who was chasing down a then-16-year-old suspect after witnessing him trying to break into a vehicle was executed by the individual, after the suspect shot him twice in the chest and once in the head

The murderer was sentenced to life without parole for the cold-blooded murder. Yet now, he’s going to eventually see a parole date after the DA’s office intervened alongside the murderer’s attorney to enact a reduced sentence. 

Raymond Gone, now 42-years-old, was 16 when he murdered 28-year-old Denver Police Officer Shawn Leinen. Officer Leinen’s wife was six-months pregnant at the time when he was killed, and thus resulted in a child never knowing their father and vice versa. 

But thanks to Denver District Attorney Beth McCann having colluded with the cop killer’s attorney, Ann Roan, Gone will now see a parole date at some point. 

Officer Leinen had responded to a call about shots fired back in February of 1995 when he happened upon Gone attempting to break into a vehicle. Officer Leinen proceeded to chase Gone down an alley – which Gone was said to have fired two shots that were absorbed by Officer Leinen’s vest. 

With Officer Leinen on the ground, Gone was said to have stood over the officer and fired a fatal shot into his head. 

According to witness testimony at the trial conducted in 1995, a witness stated that Officer Leinen’s final words were “don’t do it man,” before Gone took his life. 

Gone’s sentence has since been reduced from life without parole to 44 years in prison – of which he’s served close to 26 years already.

DA McCann filed paperwork on December 21st that introduced “extraordinary mitigating circumstances” to vacate his conviction and have him plead guilty to felony murder committed without deliberation during the felony charge of escape.

The mitigating circumstances introduced was that he was 16 when he murdered Officer Leinen, his good behavior while in prison, and that he lived in an unstable home. 

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While a juvenile status upon which a capitol offense is committed is grounds for mitigating aspects – post conviction prison behavior is typically not something considered when determining a vacated sentence.

Furthermore, instability in one’s household is also routinely not of substance when examining a homicide of an unaffiliated victim from outside the household in which the instability exists. 

Despite all the aforementioned realities with the case, Gone’s attorney is coining this feat accomplished as something akin to restorative justice: 

“The people who had the power, the District Attorney’s Office and the court, did justice, and I am incredibly grateful to them. There is no dispute that Mr. Gone caused officer Leinen’s death, but it was not with deliberation and was not a cold blooded, calculated act.”

“It was the hasty impulsive panicked act of a 16-year-old boy who had been in more of a war in those 16 years than most of us will ever be able to understand. At every point in his young life, the systems that are supposed to be in place to save children that are abused and neglected or horribly mistreated failed.”

To reiterate – the “hasty impulsive panicked act of a 16-year-old boy,” which, according to Gone’s attorney, Roan referred to as “not a cold blooded, calculated act,” involved Gone getting caught trying to break into a vehicle, shooting an officer twice in the vest and then executing him with a headshot while he was on the ground. 

And this amended sentence was achieved at the vehement opposition of the family of Officer Leinen. 

Steven Laughrey, the slain officer’s brother-in-law, had the following to say to the courts in a letter written directly to the judge who approved the cop killer can once again see freedom: 

“He took the life of a son, brother, husband, dad, police officer, Shawn Leinen. This man is still living and breathing and Shawn is not. He should not be allowed to be a member of the outside society. He knowingly pulled that trigger that night that took Shawn’s life. He consciously knew what he was doing.”

When looking at the son that Officer Leinen never got to meet or raise, Laughrey said that the fallen officer’s son Maxwell is nearly a doppelganger of his father:

“He looks like Shawn. He acts like Shawn. I know they would have been best friends. No child should have to grow up without a father.”

As for Oficer Leinen’s widow, Susan, her longtime friend also wrote to the judge that Gone’s release would send the wrong message to any would-be cop killer: 

“If Gone is set free, this will set a horrible [precedent] for anyone in jail for killing an officer of the law. I hope all Denver Police Department officers are aware of this case and this hearing.”

It’s a sad day for policing when an officer’s blatant murder can somehow be codified to near-forgiveness due to a troubled childhood they had nothing to do with and a person two-years from the age of majority being caught red-handed when trying to commit a petty crime. 

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