NEW CITY, N.Y. -- Calling Judith Alice Clark a “cold-blooded killer,” Rockland County Executive Ed Day stood shoulder to shoulder with law enforcement officers and members of her victims' families in New City Wednesday to demand that she remain behind bars.
The now-67-year-old Clark, who was the getaway driver in the infamous 1981 Brink's armored car robbery, has already served 35 years of a minimum 75-year prison term. She would have not been eligible for parole until 2056, when she would be 106 years old.
Last Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo commuted Clark's sentence to a minimum 35 years, which means she will not be freed, but can seek parole this year.
Clark was a radical political activist in the 1960s and ‘70s. A member of the Weather Underground Organization, she took part in many political agitation and criminal activities.
Even after the WUO was dissolved, she worked with other extremist groups such as the Black Panthers and the Black Liberation Army.
She was finally captured during the Brink’s case which took place in Nanuet and Nyack and ended in the deaths of three men. (Nyack is a village in Orangetown and part of Clarkstown.)
Killed in the botched robbery and the shoot-outs that followed were: Nyack police Sgt. Edward O'Grady, Officer Waverly “Chipper” Brown and Brinks guard Peter Paige.
The robbers shot Paige dead while stealing $1.6 million in cash from the armored car at the Nanuet Mall in Nanuet, according to media reports. The fleeing suspects were eventually trapped at a roadblock in Nyack, where the second gunfight occurred and the two officers were slain.
Seriously wounded in the Nanuet attack was Brinks guard Joseph Trombino. He survived, only to be killed in 2001 in the 9/11 attacks.
Brown was the first African-American member of the Nyack Police Department.
According to multiple media reports, Clark has repented her past, expressed remorse for her crimes and has been a model prisoner at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility where she started programs for women infected with HIV, prenatal education and college courses.
The New York Times reported that Clark, who has a grown daughter, Harriet, wants to work with the disadvantaged and with incarcerated mothers when, and if, she gets out.
Day, standing on the steps of the Old Rockland County Courthouse Wednesday, said emphatically that he hopes she never does.
“Judith Clark is a cold-blooded killer,” the county executive said. “Judith Clark earned her sentence. It is now up to all of us to ensure that she serves it.”
Displayed in front of a crowd of about 500 people at the rally, dubbed "Call for Justice for Brinks Victims," was the shattered windshield of the armored car.
It was at that courthouse where Clark, and her “fellow terrorists,” were arraigned in the robbery case, Day said.
Appearing with Day were Rockland District Attorney Thomas Zugibe, Sheriff Louis Falco, Rockland PBA president Chris Kiernan and Clarkstown police Officer John Hanchar, nephew of Sgt. O'Grady, one of the victims.
They slammed Cuomo for commuting Clark's sentence.
"The governor has now betrayed all of us and perverted the scales of justice," Day told the crowd. "In one ill-advised fell swoop of the pen, he has betrayed the justice properly leveled upon this cop-killer and has sentenced the families, and all of us, to a bi-annual trip to the parole board to plead a case that was properly decided years ago."
"Gov. Cuomo spent one hour talking to Judith Clark," Hanchar said. "That's 60 minutes longer than he spent talking to the families."
Hanchar was referring to a meeting Cuomo had at the prison with Clark last September.
O'Grady's widow, Diane, was unable to attend the rally but sent Day a message thanking him for his support and encouraging him to keep up the battle to keep Clark behind bars.
The event was organized by several entities including: the county executive’s office, Rockland County PBA, the Rockland Police Chief's Association, the Brinks Memorial Committee, the Rockland Sheriff's Department, Office of the Rockland District Attorney and Hudson Valley 10-13.
Many local officials attended to show their support, Day’s office said.
Rally organizers asked the community to send letters opposing Clark's release to: Supervising Offender Rehabilitation Coordinator/ Bedford Hills Correctional Facility/247 Harris Road/ Bedford Hills, New York 10507-2400/ Re: Judith Clark/ DIN 83G0313, or write via email at http://www.doccs.ny.gov/DOCCSWebLettersToBoardofParoleForm.aspx