New York Daily News

September 29, 2004

Widow fights to prevent cop-killer's parole


Nearly a quarter-century ago, Linda Sledge was not allowed to speak at the sentencing of the man who killed her hubby cop in Brooklyn.

On Friday, she finally will get a chance to have her say.

The widow will unload years of torment when she heads upstate with her two adult children to appear before a three-member panel, whose members will decide whether cop killer Salvatore (Crazy Sal) DeSarno gets paroled.

"I've waited 24 years to say something," Sledge told the Daily News in an interview yesterday. "This is a violent person. This is someone that shouldn't be let out into society."

DeSarno, 45, was convicted of gunning down veteran patrolman Cecil (Frank) Sledge on Jan. 28, 1980, when the tough, highly decorated cop stopped him at a traffic light in Canarsie.

DeSarno shot Sledge, 32, four times - then backed up over the 12-year NYPD veteran and sped away, dragging his body more than half a mile.

In early November, DeSarno - who has racked up numerous prison infractions for violence - will get his first parole shot since being sentenced to 25 years to life.

In his way stands Sledge and the massive letter-writing campaign she kicked off in July to keep DeSarno behind bars.

Her phone calls and E-mails have spurred more than 500 letters to the state parole division's Albany offices from relatives, friends and law enforcement agencies across the nation.

"This cold-blooded killer who killed while on parole for other crimes must never see the light of day as a free man," Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said through a spokesman yesterday.

Union leaders, and Sledge, will hold a news conference at 11:30 a.m. today in front of the 69th Precinct station on Foster Ave. to protest DeSarno's possible release.