ALBANY, N.Y. (WETM) — During his final day in office on Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo commuted the sentences of four individuals, referred one case to the parole board, and fully pardoned one individual.
Gov. Cuomo’s resignation is set to take effect Monday at 11:59 p.m. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will then be sworn in as governor Tuesday at 12:00 a.m.
“The march towards a more fair, more just, more equitable, and more empathetic New York State is a long one, but every step forward we can take it worthwhile and important,” Gov. Cuomo said. “These clemencies make clear the power of redemption, encourage those who have made mistakes to engage in meaningful rehabilitation, and show New Yorkers that we can work toward a better future. I thank all the volunteer attorneys representing clemency applicants for their dedication and service to justice.”
David Gilbert, 76, was convicted of three counts of second-degree Murder and four counts of first-degree Robbery in 1983. He’s served 40 years of a 75-years-to-life sentence, related to an incident in which he was the driver, not the murderer. While incarcerated, Gilbert has made significant contributions to AIDS education and prevention programs. He has also worked as a student tutor, law library clerk, paralegal assistant, teacher’s aide, and an aide for various additional facility programs. At this time, Gilbert is the only individual still incarcerated with no possibility of parole in his lifetime. He will be referred to the Parole Board for potential release.
Greg Mingo, 68, was convicted of four counts of second-degree Murder, first-degree Robbery, first-degree Burglary, and second-degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon. He’s served 39-and-a-half years of a 50 years-to-life sentence. While incarcerated, Mingo earned his GED and a paralegal certification, enabling him to assist over a thousand other incarcerated people with their legal cases, and designed an eight-week legal research course he taught for years at Elmira and Great Meadow. Mingo also became a dedicated and respected peer counselor—founding programs focused on fatherhood, family relationships, and domestic violence and abuse—and has facilitated thousands of hours of counseling programs. Upon release, Mingo plans to live with family and work as a full-time counselor helping individuals struggling with addiction, anger, and domestic violence.
Robert Ehrenberg, 62, was convicted of two counts of second-degree Murder, and one count of first-degree Robbery and first-degree Burglary. He’s served 28-and-a-half years of a 50 year-to-life sentence. While incarcerated, Ehrenberg earned an associate’s degree from SUNY Sullivan, and a Bachelor of Science degree from St. Thomas Aquinas College, graduating as valedictorian of his class for both degrees. Ehrenberg worked as a tutor through the Hudson Link College Program, and in this role designed and taught a 16-week pre-college Basic Algebra course. Ehrenberg has also been a leader within charitable groups that raise funds for causes like academic scholarships, childhood cancer research, and animal rescue and sanctuary efforts. Upon release, Ehrenberg plans to continue his education and volunteer work.
Ulysses Boyd, 66, was convicted of one count of second-degree Murder and two counts of second-degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon for an incident in which he was not the gunman. He’s served 35 years of a 50 years-to-life sentence. While incarcerated, Boyd served as a clerk for the facility branch of the NAACP and as a DOCCS transitional services coordinator for over a decade. Upon release, Boyd will be reunited with his wife.
Paul Clark, 59, was convicted of three counts of second-degree Murder, one count of second-degree Attempted Murder, and one count of second-degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon. He’s served 40 years of an aggregate 58 years and 4 months-to-life sentence. While incarcerated, Clark earned a GED degree, an associate’s degree, and a variety of vocational certificates. Upon release, Clark will be reunited with his wife.
Lawrence Penn, 51, pled guilty to first-degree Falsifying Business Records in 2015 and was incarcerated for two years. A West Point graduate and a veteran, Penn continues to be active in his community and a full pardon will allow him to fully re-engage in a meaningful way with society.
A few of the individuals who were granted clemency by Gov. Cuomo were incarcerated members of the Release Aging People in Prison Campaign (RAPP).
“We are overwhelmed with happiness for the five incarcerated people granted clemency by Governor Cuomo, some of whom are beloved members of the RAPP family. While our heart breaks for those who did not receive good news today, we double down on our commitment to keep fighting for their freedom. Despite what happened tonight, the fact remains that incoming Governor Kathy Hochul will inherit an indefensibly racist and brutal prison system and we are hopeful that she will lead our state toward a more humane system of justice for marginalized New Yorkers by using her clemency powers and championing parole reform,” RAPP Director Jose Saldana said in a statement. “Power to the families of incarcerated people, who shoulder so much of the burden and whose love and labor keep our collective fight alive, as well as the many grassroots activists, attorneys, and the students at the CUNY Defender Clinic, whose unyielding advocacy and commitment to the ideals of redemption and compassion help all of us to build a better world.”
Advocates with RAPP are calling on the incoming governor to grant more clemencies in the future and support parole reforms.