Parole release of ‘Fat Cat’ Nichols a slap in the face to parole officers

The New York State Public Employees Federation (PEF) denounces granting state parole to infamous Queens drug lord Lorenzo “Fat Cat” Nichols, who orchestrated the murder of Parole Officer Brian Rooney for $5,000 in blood money.   

Nichols ordered Rooney killed by two of his lieutenants, Howard “Pappy” Mason and Chris Williams. The “contract” was executed the evening of October 10, 1985. Rooney was lured to Baisley Park in Queens where Mason and Williams drove up to Rooney’s vehicle. Mason drew a gun and fired repeatedly until Rooney was dead.  

“You order the murder of a New York State parole officer and then get paroled?” said PEF President Wayne Spence, who is also a 28-year parole officer in New York. “Words cannot describe the disgust and disappointment that each and every New York State parole officer is feeling upon learning the news that this murderous drug lord was granted state parole. As New York releases more inmates, what message does this send?  Office Rooney, like all parole officers across New York, was a skilled professional, dedicated and courageous. He continues to inspire all of us today.”  

Nichols was released from state prison and immediately taken into federal custody on April 5. (New York Post story, April 7, 2022)

More parolees are hitting the streets as a result of so-called ‘Less is More’ parole reform – a law PEF opposes because it ties the hands of parole officers. PEF lobbied vehemently against the law as a disservice to crime victims and an unfair burden on an already under-funded and under-staffed parole system.  

The union continues to fight for amendments to the legislation, including the addition of more officers to supervise the increasing caseloads, reconsideration of the ‘30 for 30’ rule that allows incarcerated individuals to earn credit off their sentences even after they’ve violated the terms of their parole, and a rewriting of the state’s sentencing guidelines, which haven’t changed in more than 20 years.