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Updated: August 18, 2023, 2:26 PM

Widow of slain NYPD cop pleads for parole board not to release two-time killer again: ‘I beg you’

By Georgett Roberts, Tina Moore and Natalie O'Neill

The tearful widow of an NYPD cop gunned down by a two-time killer while he was out on parole decades ago pleaded with a state board Friday not to release the career criminal again.

“I beg you not to disrespect my hero husband’s legacy,” Mary Beth O’Neill, wife of slain Bronx officer Thomas Ruotolo, told the parole board. “I beg you to keep this city safe by refusing to let George Agosto continue his life of crime.”

Ruotolo was gunned down by Agosto — who was out on parole for manslaughter — at a Bronx gas station in February 1984.

After serving nearly 40 years behind bars, he’s now up for parole again, which O’Neill called heartbreaking and outrageous.

“He shot and killed my husband while on parole, and he wants to be paroled again?” she told the board, according to a police union press release.

“The rules of parole mean nothing to him,” she said. “I have not seen anything that would make me think that he’s a changed man.”

Rehashing her husband’s tragic death in an effort to stop the killer’s release has caused her “days of tears,” she said, choking up.

“It hurts, it aches, my heart breaks, you know. It’s a loss that I will never recover from,” she said.

“It’s terrifying. I think it should be terrifying for everyone. This is a man that has killed two people,” she told media later of the possibility Agosto could be set free.

At least 36 cop killers have been granted parole in New York since 2017, in part due to lax sentencing laws prior to 2005, according to police union officials.

“This career criminal is living proof that when you release a cold-blooded killer from prison, he can and will kill again,” Patrick Hendry, head of New York City’s police officers’ union, said of Agosto.

“This should be an open-and-shut case for the parole board, but unfortunately, we have reason to be concerned,” he said. “New Yorkers cannot afford to have another vicious cop-killer put back on our streets.”

Ruotolo, 30, was on patrol in the Bronx on Valentine’s Day 1984 when he stopped Agosto for a suspected moped theft.

Agosto, then 24, fatally shot Ruotolo in the head on 149th Street near Southern Boulevard while on parole for a manslaughter charge.

He also wounded Officer Tanya Braithwaite, who was working as Ruotolo’s fill-in partner that night.

The cop killer was busted at a nearby hospital, later sentenced to 40 years to life — and became eligible for parole earlier this year.

Before gunning down Ruotolo, he had previously been sentenced to five to 15 years behind bars for manslaughter in 1979, when he was 19 years old.

He was paroled three years later and was arrested twice — once for carrying a gun and once for burglary while on parole — then went on to kill the police officer.

Agosto’s next parole hearing is in September.

Before 2005, the longest sentence for cop killers in New York was 25 years to life — a crime that would likely put them away for life without parole today.

Some of those killers have benefited from 2011 parole guidelines that look at what prisoners have been doing since their incarceration, rather than just the original crime.

In 2019, an NYPD police dog was named Ruoto after the fallen officer.

“[Agosto] not only took Tommy’s life, he took so much more,” O’Neill said. “He clearly valued no life but his own.”