Carmine Persico Not Going Down Without a Fight, His Attorneys Vow

Cosa Nostra News Exclusive

The vision of the U.S. Parole Commission is to build an organization that balances justice through fair and equal treatment with dignity and respect for offenders, staff, and the community we serve….

Last updated March 3, 2016
--from Department of Justice website

Carmine Persico served decades.

Defense attorneys for alleged Colombo crime family boss Carmine Persico are still working to get the man out of prison, one of the attorneys, Mat Mari, tells Cosa Nostra News.

They will file a Writ of Mandamus in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to try to compel the United States Parole Commission to grant Persico the mandatory 30-year parole hearing it quite viciously denied him last year, his attorneys said. (The writ essentially is an order from one court to a lesser court, telling it to perform an act required by law that it has refused or neglected to do.)

The hearing was scheduled for August 2, 2017, when at the last minute, the Parole Commission and Federal Bureau of Prisons declared that they were postponing it until 2051. Persico would be 118 years old and have spent 66 years behind bars.

Why did they do this? Because they could? Because had the August 2 hearing been granted, the BOP would’ve been required to parole Persico? His lawyers have said there was no reason for them to believe he was at risk of recidivism if released. Also he had committed no serious or frequent rules violations since his February 1985 imprisonment. He'd been convicted in the Commission Case.

Once upon a time, federally sentenced inmates were eligible for parole, from about 1910 until 1987 when it was abolished by theSentencing Reform Act, part of Ronald Reagan’s Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984. (Attorney General Jeff Sessions, that showboating paragon of human virtue, used the very same act to revive mandatory minimum sentences, federal use of private for-profit prisons, and, most recently, the widely discredited practice of civil asset forfeiture. (Translation to make this clear as crystal: Sessions signed an order encouraging  law enforcement to take your stuff if you’re arrested even if you are not convicted of a crime.)

From 1910 to 1984, nearly all federal prisoners received sentences that included parole. They typically were eligible after serving one-third of their sentences. On average, most federal prisoners served 58% of their maximum sentences before being paroled.

But even though abolished, the parole statutes continue to apply to prisoners sentenced prior to the program’s closure. That population which the Parole Commission still controls included Persico and 955 other inmates as of last summer, wrote Jerry Capeci on Gang Land News.

The Parole Commission had been denying Persico the hearing the previous two years, even though he had served more than 30 years behind bars, as required by its rules. Then, on March 27 of last year, it finally agreed that he was entitled to one. For months, it let his attorneys get to work, only to tell them, once they and Persico arrived in the hearing room (at the federal prison hospital in Butner, North Carolina), via the hearing examiner, to forget it. The examiner handed them a July 13 letter “addressed to no one and signed by no one that voided the mandatory parole hearing," Mari told Gang Land News, which noted that the hearing had been authorized by Commissioner Charles Massarone.

In addition to filing a Writ of Mandamus (and a Writ of Habeas Corpus) lawyers Mari and Anthony DiPietro are trying to organize a campaign to convince federal law makers to adopt a version of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's proposed plan to release old and sick inmates who have served substantial time.

New York State spends about $400 million per year footing the medical bills of inmates, and Governor Cuomo is attempting to ease that burden by proposing what the New York Post described as a “geriatric parole” program for prisoners 55 and older who suffer from a “chronic, serious condition, disease, syndrome or infirmity."

It costs an estimated $100,000 to house an elderly inmate, an Assembly report found. Prison medical costs generally rise 20 percent every three years, as per state officials.

The governor said such an effort would be humane and save money for taxpayers.

“The policy is not only compassionate. It’s cost effective and does not comprise public safety,” Cuomo’s legal counsel Alphonso David told the Post, noting that the recidivism rate for older prisoners is substantially lower than for younger ones.

To be eligible, prisoners would have to have served at least half their sentences.

The state already has a medical-release program, but it’s largely restricted to the terminally ill and those with serious cognitive issues. “This expands the criteria,” David said.

About 10,000 inmates inhabit the state prison system who are 50 or older. While the overall prison population has declined by 17 percent in the past decade, the percentage of inmates 50 and older has risen by 46 percent.

Robert Gangi, former head of a New York prison reform group, told the Post that the “devil is in the details” but said, “Releasing older prisoners is a good idea. It’s humane and it’s going to save money.”

Matthew Mari, Persico attorney
Matthew (Mat) Mari

"The Fed's should consider this plan," Mari said. "It makes sense for old, sick inmates, who have served more than enough time, to finish off their time at home instead of a costly prison hospital."