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PBA Shield

John Nuthall


April 5, 2018

Police Widow files suit against NY state parole board over decision to release three-time cop-killer Herman Bell


Widow implores Governor Cuomo to make NY state parole board follow the law and consider the intentions of the sentencing judge in her husband’s murder 

Albany, NY: On behalf of police widow Diane Piagentini, the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association of the City of New York (NYCPBA) filed suit on Wednesday, in NY State Supreme Court in Albany County against New York State Board of Parole and its chairwoman, Tina M. Stanford, for failure to follow the Criminal Procedure and Executive laws in considering the parole release of three-time convicted cop-killer, Herman Bell.  Bell and two others plotted to kill and assassinated Police Officers Joseph Piagentini and Waverly Jones in 1971 when they responded to a fake call for help.  The suit alleges that the Board failed to consider the words and intent of the sentencing judge and prosecuting District Attorney before concluding that Bell should be released.   The law requires that such a violation will result in the rescission of the parole date and the establishment of a new panel to rehear the case in order to prevent the “rubber stamping” of the flawed decision.  The suit sought and was granted a temporary restraining order against Bell’s release pending the outcome of the case.  The case is scheduled to be heard in Albany on Friday, April 13th.

PBA President Patrick J. Lynch said:

“This Parole Board blew the call by making a decision to release this cold-blooded assassin without having considered all of the facts as the law requires.  To make matters worse, the Board tried to pull a fast one by telling a newspaper reporter that after they had made their decision to release this cop-killer, they read the statements by the judge and district attorney, both of whom indicated that Bell should never be freed, and that it hadn’t changed the Board’s minds.  Well, it is time that they learned that they don’t get to play fast and loose with the laws that govern parole.  They are not almighty deities, and just as police have laws dictating their arrest powers, the parole board also has laws to follow and failure to follow them has consequences.  It is reprehensible that Mrs. Piagentini has to sue a NY State institution just to have them comply with existing laws which dictate that Herman Bell’s parole must be rescinded and a brand new panel must rehear the case. ”

Mrs. Diane Piagentini said:

“There are some crimes so heinous that those who commit them forever forfeit their right to freedom.  Herman Bell was convicted after the death penalty was declared unconstitutional and before the sentence of life without parole was instituted.  The judge and prosecutor at his trial made it clear that he should never get out of prison.  He, and many horrible cop-killers like him, who would have been put to death before it was struck down or would have been given life without parole if they committed the same crimes today, shouldn’t be freed because of coincidental timing.  I hear talk of rehabilitation from politicians but I don’t hear talk of murderers being held accountable for their horrible crimes and I never hear even the mention of punishment for their crimes. Herman Bell denied his crime for four decades. Now, to meet parole requirements, he has admitted his role in the sadistic murder of my husband Joe.  He should suffer the torment of knowing that he will spend the rest of his natural life in prison for that crime, just as our family has forever been denied the blessing s of having Joe with us.  That is a punishment that he has earned and he deserves. I implore Governor Cuomo to direct his Parole Board Chairwoman, Tina Stanford, to follow the laws regarding parole and to understand that releasing cop-killers undermines the law, disregards the intentions of the sentencing judge and sends the wrong message to society.  Parole may be appropriate for some who have committed crime, but it is not for cold-blooded cop-killers.”

On behalf of Mrs. Piagentini, the NYCPBA has communicated with the Chairwoman of the State Parole Board, Tina Stanford, on three separate occasions since the decision was made to grant Bell parole to which the Board has not made a single response.  Given the nearness of the earliest parole date, Mrs. Piagentini was forced to take legal action in an effort to obtain justice for the death of her husband.   

Herman Bell’s parole date has been set for April 17th.  His murdering partner, Anthony Bottom, will come up for parole consideration in June.

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