By Greg B. Smith, Greg Gittrich and Maki Becker Daily News Staff Writers with Kenneth R. Bazinet January 21, 2001, Sunday Sports Final Edition Copyright 2001 Daily News, L.P. Daily News (New York) January 21, 2001, Sunday Sports Final Edition
(NEW YORK) -- Among the most controversial names on the list of felons President Clinton decided to pardon or commute the sentences of yesterday was Susan Rosenberg, who had been linked to a 1981 Brink's armored-car robbery that left two Nyack cops dead. The President's action enraged the victims' families and fellow police officers.
Rosenberg was serving a 58-year sentence in a Danbury, Conn., federal prison on an unrelated weapons charge - possession of more than 700 pounds of explosives.
She was never charged in the shootings of Sgt. Edward O'Grady and Patrolman Waverly Brown in Rockland County. Last month, she appeared on CBS-TV's "60 Minutes" to denounce her imprisonment and profess her innocence in the armored-car heist.
"In my mind, and in the mind of all rational people, Rosenberg is a cop killer and a terrorist who needs to stay in jail," said O'Grady's nephew, John Hanchar.
"We are not hardhearted people or beyond forgiveness," he said. "But Rosenberg has never acknowledged her role in the murders or ever demonstrated any bit of remorse."
Thomas Coffey, former chief of the Nyack Police Department, called Clinton's action "disgusting."
"Two police officers lost their lives," Coffey said. "They were unable to see their families grow, and their families are unable to have their father participate in their growth."
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York) also blasted the decision, saying, "With the families of the officers who were killed still grieving this is a clear injustice. We are very disappointed."
A member of the radical Weather Underground group, Rosenberg was sent to prison after being arrested in New Jersey in 1984 with 740 pounds of dynamite and weapons - including a submachine gun - in her car.
Authorities said they never pressed charges in the Nyack shootout because Rosenberg faced such a long sentence on the explosives charges.
Even though Rosenberg technically was eligible for release on that conviction, authorities ordered her held for 15 additional years because of the Brink's case.
In commuting her sentence, Clinton officials called her a "model prisoner" and cited her work in prison on AIDS-awareness programs.
"Clinton is trying to avoid accountability by doing this on his last day," said Lt. Michael Sullivan of the Clarkstown Police Department, which now covers parts of Nyack.