Notorious Queens druglord Lorenzo “Fat Cat” Nichols, who ordered his parole officer’s killing in 1985, is seeking compassionate release from federal prison because the “stress” of more time behind bars is giving him migraines.
The 63-year-old kingpin made the request in a letter to Brooklyn Federal Court Judge Edward Korman, but even if he’s approved, he’ll have to wait for his freedom. He has a 10-year prison sentence in Florida looming over his head.
Nichols was hit with a 25-to-life state sentence, and a concurrent 40-year federal sentence, after pleading guilty in 1992 to arranging the murder of parole officer Brian Rooney and killing two others, including his ex-girlfriend.
He also was linked to the slaying of NYPD cop Eddie Byrne, 22, who was executed while sitting in his patrol car in South Jamaica, Queens, in February 1988.
Nichols, who spent the last 34 years in state prison, caught a break earlier this year when the state parole board ordered him released, sparking the anger of the city police union.
But he still owed time to the feds and complained to the judge that his time served since his arrest in 1988 wasn’t counted toward his sentence. Korman suggested the druglord apply for compassionate release.
In an Aug. 15 letter that touches on the “mistakes” of his past but makes no reference to his victims, Nichols rattled off a litany of health problems and deaths in his family, and groused about his treatment at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center.
“Although I try to stay strong, the stress is weighting me down, and has raised my blood pressure,” he wrote, adding that he’s been denied a vegan diet in his new federal digs.
“I am fearful of my health rapidly declining under these conditions. I have now developed migraines after receiving news of being incarcerated for four more years due to miscalculations and a failure to inform of a probation violation in which I was never charged, sentenced, nor knew existed,” he wrote.
His plan, should he win release, is to live with his wife in Jacksonville, Fla., and work for her catering company. Attempts to reach his wife, and the catering business, were unsuccessful.
Rooney’s old partner, Alan Reiter, 76, said Nichols has too much blood on his hands, and should rot in prison.
“There’s no reason why any of them should be released. They murdered Brian, and it was a contract killing,” Reiter said. “I have no compassion for him. Maybe God will forgive him, but I certainly can’t. There was no reason for him to do that. Brian was a good guy. Brian was a caring person.”
Rooney often showed compassion to the parole violators he picked up, sometimes taking money out of his own pocket and putting it into their commissary accounts, Reiter recalled.
“I think about Thomas Rooney, Brian’s son, who was 18 months old at the time he lost his father. It think about him, he doesn’t know his father and my heart beaks for this little boy. He’s a grown man now,” Reiter said.
City police union head Patrick Lynch had harsh words for Nichols.
“It’s infuriating to hear this cop-killer whine that he should be released due to ‘stress and anxiety.’ What about the ‘stress and anxiety’ of the Byrne and Rooney families, not to mention the cops who patrol the same streets where these heroes were assassinated?” asked Lynch. “Where is their ‘compassionate release’? We have zero sympathy for the crocodile tears of a cop-killing druglord. The judge shouldn’t have any, either.”
In the 1980s, Nichols lorded over the drug trade in Queens, and police and federal authorities have long believed he gave the green light to Officer Byrne’s killing in his patrol car — though he was never charged in the slaying.
The hit was carried out by a four-man team and ordered by jailed drug kingpin Howard “Pappy” Mason. All four men were convicted.
Nichols was Mason’s street boss. He denies involvement in Byrne’s slaying, but told the parole board in February that he took “full responsibility” for Rooney’s murder, claiming he only wanted the parole officer roughed up so that he’d miss a crucial hearing.
“If I never set that in motion, it wouldn’t have happened.... Although, that was never the intent, and see, that means nothing to the family or his friends or his loved ones or colleagues, you know, it means nothing that that wasn’t the intent.”
Reiter disputed that account, though, and said his partner was marked for death because he “so-called disrespected Lorenzo Nichols by taking him into custody on a parole violation.”
The shooter and his brother have finished their federal sentences, and in 2020, the state parole board released accomplice Perry Bellamy, who lured Rooney to the spot where he was executed.
Nichols also acknowledged to the parole board that he doesn’t expect to be a free man until his 70s, because of the pending 10-year sentence in Florida.
He was convicted in Martin County in 2007 for his role in a car theft and title fraud ring, records show.