Driver in Infamous Robbery May Go Free After 40 Years

Outgoing Gov. Andrew Cuomo granted clemency to Brink's getaway driver David Gilbert
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 24, 2021 10:50 AM CDT
Driver in Infamous Robbery Gains a Last-Minute Pardon
In this Nov. 23, 1981, file photo, a handcuffed David Gilbert is led from Rockland County Court in New City, NY, after a hearing.   (AP Photo/David Handschuh, File)

Andrew Cuomo granted clemency to half a dozen people in his final hours in office Monday night, none more controversial than that of David Gilbert. The 76-year-old was a getaway driver in an infamous 1981 robbery of a Brink's armored car that left two police officers and a security guard dead, notes NBC New York. At the time, Gilbert was a member of the radical group the Weather Underground. Details:

  • The crime: The gunmen made off with $1.6 million from an armored car at a mall near Nyack, NY. One of the Brink's guards was killed in the ambush, and the two officers were killed later in a shootout after police stopped their two vehicles, per the Journal News.

  • Not free yet: Cuomo's move doesn't automatically free Gilbert, notes the New York Times. But he will now get a parole hearing in a matter of weeks at which he could be released. That outcome seems likely: In 2016, Cuomo commuted the sentence of Judith Clark, also involved in the robbery, and she was released after a parole hearing. Gilbert's wife, Kathy Boudin, also took part in the robbery, but she was paroled in 2003 and went on to become a Columbia University professor.
  • Cuomo's take: Gilbert "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 outgoing governor tweeted. Cuomo said Gilbert has been a model inmate and shown remorse. (The tweet includes details on the other five clemencies.)

  • Famous son: Gilbert and Boudin's son is San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, who has advocated for his father's release. "My heart is bursting, and it also aches for the families of the three victims," he said in a statement Monday night, per the Hill. "Although he never used a gun or intended for anyone to get hurt, my father's crime caused unspeakable harm and devastated the lives of many separate families."
  • Criticism: Arthur Keenan Jr., a detective wounded in the shootout, tells the Times that Cuomo "is stabbing all of law enforcement in the back" with his move. The current executive of Rockland County, where the crime took place, called the move "despicable" and said Cuomo had "debased himself."
(More Andrew Cuomo stories.)

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