Tana Agostini (NYS BOARD OF PAROLE)
A state Parole Board member appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo is married to a convicted killer whose three-decade prison stint included a daring escape and biting off part of an inmate’s nose, The Post has learned.
Tana Agostini, 51, fell in love with and married Thomas O’Sullivan, 57, while he was still behind bars and she worked as a staffer on the state Assembly’s committee overseeing the prison system.
She lobbied the board’s chair, Bob Dennison, to write a letter backing her lover’s bid for freedom — and O’Sullivan was paroled in 2013.
Dennison admitted the union of an inmate and future parole board member was likely unprecedented — but said he met O’Sullivan in prison and, “(He) struck me a changed man.”
Agostini stayed involved in the prison system until Cuomo appointed her in 2017 to the Parole Board, which last month drew fire for voting to release notorious cop killer Herman Bell.
Agostini did not hear that case.
Cuomo’s office referred calls to the state Department of Corrections, which defended Agostini’s appointment to the Parole Board.
“Tana Agostini was named to the New York State Board of Parole based on her extensive knowledge of the criminal justice system,” said the spokesman, Thomas Mailey.
“To ignore her experience and attack her personal character… is shameless and patently offensive.”
Her husband, O’Sullivan, is a walking reminder of New York’s Bad Old Days.
He was sentenced to 25 years to life for the 1982 hired murder of a Queens drug dealer. He allegedly threatened an assistant district attorney during his 1984 sentencing.
“On the way out, O’Sullivan made his hand into the shape of a gun and moved it as if he were shooting me. He said, ‘see you around,’” the prosecutor, Peter Dunne, told The Post in 1987.
Normaul Busjit, a jewel thief and the dealer who hired O’Sullivan, was also sentenced to 25-to-life.
The two, along with a third man, escaped from their Queens jail in March 1987 by crawling through 80 feet of duct and fashioning fire hoses and sheets into a rope to climb down the building’s façade from the sixth floor.
O’Sullivan remained on the lam for more than a month.
While serving time upstate, records show O’Sullivan bit off part of another inmate’s nose during a fight. Officials ruled he “exceeded that which was necessary to protect himself.”
Since joining the Assembly’s staff as a maintenance worker, O’Sullivan has cut a quiet and compassionate figure.
“He’s a soft-spoken, gentle, easygoing guy,” said Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell, an Upper West Side Democrat, who led the corrections committee and visited prisons with then-staffer Agostini.
“I don’t know of a single person who doesn’t like him.”
Agostini and O’Sullivan could not be reached for comment.
Republicans attacked the pick and said her marriage to a murderer was well-known at the state Capitol when Cuomo gave her the job.
“The wife of a convicted murderer who once broke out of prison is a State Parole Board commissioner. Herman Bell killed two police officers and will be walking the streets,” said Assemblyman Brian Kolb, of Geneva, the GOP minority leader. “We need a top-down review of the system because this isn’t merely irresponsible – it’s malpractice.”
PBA President Patrick J. Lynch called the news of Agostini’s relationship a “total ethical lapse of this parole board member.”
“We have seen interviews done between notorious and famous killers and parole board commissioners that read like a fan club conversations with these cold-blooded killers,” he said. “These are completely misguided, unreasonable people sitting in judgment on these parole boards. How else can you explain the horrendous decision to release one of the worst cop killers in our nation’s history onto our streets.”
Additional reporting by Carl Campanile and Shawn Cohen