San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin said Monday his “heart is bursting” after now-former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo granted clemency to his father, a former member of the left-wing militant group Weather Underground, who is behind bars for his role in a 1981 armed robbery that left three people dead.
In one of his final acts as governor, Cuomo, who resigned after being accused of rampant sexual harassment and misconduct, granted clemency to David Gilbert, 76, was convicted of three counts of second-degree murder and four counts of first-degree robbery in the 1983 heist of a Brinks armored car. Cuomo’s office said in a press release, which has since been deleted from the governor’s website, that Gilbert will be referred to the state parole board for potential release.
“He has served 40 years of a 75-years-to-life sentence, related to an incident in which he was the driver, not the murderer,” the press release stated. “While incarcerated, Mr. Gilbert has made significant contributions to AIDS education and prevention programs; he has also worked as a student tutor, law library clerk, paralegal assistant, a teacher’s aide, and an aide for various additional facility programs.”
Boudin, who was elected San Francisco district attorney in 2019, was only 3 when his father went to prison. His mother was also involved in the heist and was imprisoned until 2003 after pleading guilty to felony murder and robbery.
“My heart is bursting,” Boudin tweeted Monday night. “On the eve of my first child’s birth, my dad – who’s been in prison nearly my entire life – was granted clemency. He never intended harm, yet his crime devastated many families. My heart breaks for the families that can never get their loved ones back.”
“Me and my dad in one of our last precious moment of freedom together,” he wrote in another tweet, including a photo of himself as a toddler with his father.
Cuomo previously granted parole to another Weather Underground member, Judith Clark, who was also involved in the 1981 robbery.
Republican Assemblymember Mike Lawler, who represents Rockland County, where the robbery happened, slammed the governor’s announcement, calling him “a coward and an awful human being” and apologizing to the families of the victims, which included two police officers and a security guard.
“Only a sociopath, such as Andrew Cuomo, would think that David Gilbert, a man who participated in a heinous attack on law-abiding citizens and law enforcement alike, deserves to be eligible for parole,” he said in a statement. “When the book is written on Andrew Cuomo, apart from leaving office in disgrace, his legacy will be a New York that has released unrepentant cop killers, child rapists, murderers, and terrorists. My only hope is that when all is said and done, the final chapter finds him in a jail cell.”
Cuomo on Monday granted clemency to a total of six people before resigning from office under a cloud of scandals. Kathy Hochul was sworn in as New York’s first female governor shortly after the stroke of midnight on Tuesday.
“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,” Cuomo said in a statement announcing the clemencies. “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.”