Today, Albany County Supreme Court Judge Richard Koweek ruled that Mrs. Diane Piagentini, widow of slain P.O. Joseph Piagentini, does not have standing to challenge the NYS Parole Board’s failure to follow its own guidelines and the law in paroling P.O. Piagentini’s killer, triple-cop-killer Herman Bell. Judge Koweek dismissed the lawsuit, but stayed the implementation of his order until April 27 (see decision and order). The PBA will appeal the ruling and will seek a new court order to keep Bell behind bars while the case moves forward.
PBA President Patrick J. Lynch said:
“In a free and democratic society, we cannot have a parole system that is accountable only to the criminals themselves. The Parole Board blatantly violated the law and its own guidelines in releasing Herman Bell in order to satisfy a pro-criminal political agenda. Governor Cuomo has already washed his hands of any responsibility for a board he appoints. And now, this judge believes that nobody, not even the victims of the crime, has a right to challenge the board's misconduct. The PBA is pushing forward with an appeal of this outrageous decision, and we will immediately seek a new court order to keep Bell behind bars until the case is resolved. If today’s decision is allowed to stand, it will blow a gaping hole in our justice system, through which monsters like Herman Bell will continue to escape onto our streets.”
Mrs. Diane Piagentini said:
“Our family is devastated that the judge has turned a blind eye to the Parole Board’s illegal actions. Not only have they compounded the pain and suffering we have experienced since my husband’s death, they have also put the safety of the public in jeopardy by releasing a vicious killer like Herman Bell. Nobody involved in this process — not the parole board, not the Attorney General and not the Governor — wants to take responsibility for this failure of our justice system. We will appeal this ruling, not just for our own sake, but for the sake of all law-abiding New Yorkers.”