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April 20, 2018, 4:08 PM

Judge orders convicted cop killer Herman Bell to be set free

By Thomas Tracy

Convicted cop killer Herman Bell will be set free from prison next week, now that an Albany judge has thrown out a lawsuit filed by the widow of one of his victims.

Judge Richard Koweek on Friday ruled that the state parole board was following the proper protocols when they ordered Bell released from his 44-year incarceration in March.

Bell's release was scheduled for April 17, but was held back a week so Koweek could rule on the suit filed by Diane Piagentini, the widow of Police Officer Joseph Piagentini.

He and two other members of the Black Liberation Army were convicted of executing Officers Piagentini and Waverly Jones in Harlem in 1971 after luring them there with a bogus 911 call.

The lawsuit claimed that the parole board did not review the sentencing minutes of the 1979 conviction and demanded a new parole hearing.

State officials admitted the parole board reviewed the minutes after making its decision, but filed an amended decision, claiming that the minutes didn't change their finding.

The lawsuit was filed with the help of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, the city's largest police union.

The PBA also sent more than 367,000 online letters to the state Board of Parole opposing Bell's release, which is now scheduled for April 27.

An email to the PBA for comment on Koweek's decision was not immediately returned.