Bleeding Hearts


So what exactly was in those letters received by the Get-Out-of-Jail-Now board from the fans of ex-state senator Guy Velella? A review of 36 missives received by the Local Conditional Release Commission shows that a political smorgasbord of supporters weighed in on Velella’s behalf, ranging from Burt Roberts, the former top Bronx jurist who served as the model for the throw-away-the-key judge in The Bonfire of the Vanities, to the leaders of the otherwise progressive Working Families Party. Also pleading for his former colleague’s release was State Senator Dale Volker, who, as chairman of the Codes Committee, has played a key role in blocking reform of the Rockefeller drug laws, thus keeping thousands of first-time nonviolent drug offenders in prison for extended sentences. “He has emotionally been having a very difficult time in prison,” wrote Volker of pal Guy. Here’s a sampling:

Burton B. Roberts,

former administrative judge of the Bronx Supreme Court and former Bronx district attorney:

Society could certainly benefit from his spending the remaining incarcerated time in community service. . . . He certainly has been punished and I ask that he be given a chance for redemption.”

Read Letter

Patrick J. Lynch,

president of Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association of the City of New York:

This has been an ordeal of considerable significance for Senator Velella. He has suffered many consequences in his personal and professional life. . . . I always found Mr. Velella to observe the highest degree of integrity in all of his interaction with the New York City PBA.”

Read Letter

Herman Badillo,

former Bronx borough president, former congressman, former deputy mayor of New York City, and chairman of the Board of Trustees of the City University of New York:

I found him to be a dedicated public official who did not let politics interfere with programs which were needed, not just in his senatorial district but throughout the Bronx and the City.”

Read Letter

Madeline Provenzano,

New York City councilwoman [to Guy Velella]:

I’ve known you for most of my 25 years in political life and I know there are so many things you can look back on with pride in your years as a legislator.”

Read Letter

Denis Hughes,

president of New York State AFL-CIO:

” . . . I would request review of Guy Velella’s considerable record of laudable community service, and his release under supervision to the community he has so long devoted himself to. Mercy is a trait of the strong and confident. Justice, not tempered by mercy, is ill served.”

Read Letter

Stanley Parness,

former presiding justice, Apellate Term of the New York State Supreme Court:

I therefore believe that his continued incarceration serves no necessary or useful punishment purpose. I know he is genuinely contrite and only wishes to go on with his life. He certainly poses no present or future danger to the public.”

Read Letter

Stephen B. Kaufman,

New York State assemblyman:

As a state senator, Guy Velella has done an excellent job and I will be hard-pressed to find a partner in government to fill that void. His work on behalf of his constituents cannot be surpassed and will be sorely missed.”

Read Letter

Angelo R. Martinelli,

former mayor of Yonkers:

While this is in your discretion, I do not think that further incarceration should be the remedy for the crime. I would hope that some community service might better serve as a lesson, and I am sure that Mr. Velella will never be involved in any other crime.”

Read Letter

Edward I. Koch,

former mayor of New York City:

I am not familiar with the facts regarding Guy Velella’s conviction other than what I have read in the media. However, I can state without reservation that in all of my dealings with him, I have found him to be an honorable person whose word was his bond.”

Read Letter

Michael F. Nozzolio,

New York state senator:

Not even Mr. Velella’s strongest detractors could maintain that a threat to the community would be posed based upon his re-entry into the community.”

Read Letter

Reverend Monsignor Thomas E. Gilleece,

chancellor of the Archdiocese of New York:

Edward Cardinal Egan, the Archbishop of New York, has spent time with him both before and after his guilty plea and is well aware that he has accepted full responsibility for what he has done.”

Read Letter

Jerry L. Crispino,

former New York State Supreme Court justice:

It is my belief . . . that Guy Velella’s plea and sentence, and thus loss of his position and Bar membership has been a significant punishment and that continued incarceration serves no purpose.”

Read Letter

Bob Master,

Working Families Party co-chair, and Dan Cantor, Working Families Party executive director [to Guy Velella]:

There are hundreds of thousands of lower-income New Yorkers whose lives are going to improve as a result of what we continued to call ‘the Velella bill’ in all of our conversations with your Conference.”

Read Letter

Nettie Mayersohn,

New York State assemblywoman:

Guy Velella worked tirelessly with me for the three year period it took to pass the legislation. The results of his efforts saved lives. I will forever be grateful for his heroics in the senate on behalf of these children.”

Read Letter

Eliot L. Engel,

U.S. congressman:

Guy Velella assisted various community groups and associations in order to aid much needed programs, benefiting the various neighborhoods he represented. Many organizations such as Little Leagues and homeowner and block associations were helped.”

Read Letter

Fabian G. Palomino,

former special counsel to Governor Mario Cuomo:

From a penalogical point no purpose would be served by denying him a conditional release. He has taken full responsibility for his conduct and demonstrated his contrition, by pleading guilty rather them [sic] insisting upon a trial. . . . To compel him to serve the remainder of his sentence would be superfluous.”

Read Letter

Dale M. Volker,

New York state senator:

I firmly believe that the only reason Guy Velella is in prison today is because of his father. Whatever you say about Guy, I deeply admire him for that. . . . I am not going to tell you that he is perfect, but I do not believe he intentionally committed a crime.”

Read Letter

Lillian Roberts,

executive director of District Council 37, NYC’s largest public employee union:

But most importantly, he has given of himself to those who had nothing to give-and made them true friends and appreciative recipients of his dedication and service, and for this we will always remain grateful.”

Read Letter