David Gilbert, the getaway driver in the fatal 1981 Brinks robbery in Rockland County that claimed the lives of three, has been granted parole after spending decades in prison.
The move comes after Gilbert was granted clemency by former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in one of his last official acts in office, paving the way for parole.
The New York State Corrections Department announced on Tuesday, Oct. 26 that Gilbert, now 76, a former left-wing extremist, has been paroled following his incarceration for the botched armored car robbery that left a guard and two police officers dead in the Hudson Valley.
Gilbert and other former members of the Weather Underground, a militant group that grew out of the anti-Vietnam War movement decades ago, had joined with members of the Black Liberation Army in the botched Oct. 20, 1981 robbery.
They stole $1.6 million in cash from an armored car outside the Nanuet Mall near the Rockland County community of Nyack, though the three were killed in a holdup and subsequent shootout with the robbers.
Gilbert had been sentenced to a term of 75 years to life for his role in the robbery.
- Earlier story - Cuomo's Clemency Grant Of Brinks Robbery Getaway Driver In Hudson Valley Sparks Outrage
With his parole granted, Gilbert will now be able to leave the Shawangunk Correctional Facility in Ulster County as soon as next month.
Gilbert's release is scheduled for no later than Tuesday, Nov. 30, according to Thomas Mailey, a spokesperson for the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.
The decision by the parole board was met with swift and decisive backlash by both supporters and detractors.
"Today’s ruling by the New York State Parole Board is a cruel and unjust slap in the face to the families of Sergeant Edward O'Grady, Officer Waverly ‘Chipper' Brown and Brinks guard Peter Paige as well as the people of Rockland County, especially given the fact that only days ago Rockland held our annual ceremony commemorating the lives of those that David Gilbert was convicted of killing 40 years ago," County Executive Ed Day said in a statement.
"Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Parole Board should be ashamed for allowing this domestic terrorist to walk free on our streets," he continued. "There’s no reason that David Gilbert should not have to face the full consequences of his heinous crimes, no matter how much time has passed.”
New York Assemblyman Mike Lawler also used the opportunity to take a shot at Cuomo, calling the entire situation an "absolute abomination.”
“(Andrew Cuomo) should be ashamed of himself and the entire parole board should resign in disgrace,” he stated. “(New Yorkers) of good conscience must vote out ‘woke’ politicians and stop this insanity.”
Republican gubernatorial hopeful and former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino took to social media to express his displeasure with Gilbert’s release following Lawler's comments.
“It used to be a capital offense to murder a police officer,” he posted. “Now in NY under the radical Cuomo-Hochul parole board…kill a cop, just be patient. Eventually, you’ll be freed. Over 20 released from prison in just the last (two years). Abomination is right, assemblyman. They must be replaced."
Gilbert's son, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, who has been lobbying to have his father released like others involved in the case, took the opposite viewpoint.
"I am so grateful to the parole board and to everyone who has supported my father during his more than 40 years in prison,” he said in a statement.
"I’m thinking about the other children affected by this crime and want to make sure that nothing I do or say further upsets the victims’ families. Their loved ones will never be forgotten.”
Jose Saldana, the Director of the Release Aging People in Prison Campaign also supported the board’s decision to grant Gilbert’s release.
“We support the Parole Board’s decisions to release incarcerated people who have served decades in prison and pose no risk to public safety,” he said. “The purpose of parole is to evaluate people for release based on who they are today, not to extend sentences into perpetuity.
“Mr. Gilbert spent decades in prison creating rehabilitative programs and has been an unparalleled positive influence on the lives of countless incarcerated people,” Saldana added. “There is no doubt that he will be an asset to his community. This and other recent decisions the Parole Board has made based on those principles are the right ones.”
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