Accomplice in 1985 murder of NYC parole officer wins prison release

A state parole officer will soon have the unenviable task of supervising an ex-con who lured another parole officer to his death 35 years ago.

In the latest decision to spark outrage over a convicted killer being cut loose, the Parole Board has authorized the release later this month of Perry Bellamy, who set up the 1985 murder of Parole Officer Brian Rooney, 34, for $5,000 in blood money.

“Releasing Bellamy is breaking the trust and united resolve that must exist between the board and parole officers,” said Wayne Spence, president of the state Public Employees Federation, which represents New York’s 1,000 parole officers.

“Instead of standing by us, the board has sent a signal that it does not have our backs, that our professionalism and our lives don’t matter.”

On Oct. 10, 1985, Bellamy — an associate of infamous Queens drug lord Lorenzo “Fat Cat” Nichols — arranged to meet Rooney near Baisley Pond Park in South Jamaica by claiming to have information about one of his cases.

There, a hit squad acting on Nichols’ orders pulled up alongside Rooney’s car and opened fire, killing him with five shots.

The motive, authorities said, was revenge for Rooney having locked up Nichols following a drug arrest while he was on parole in an earlier drug case — although Nichols maintained that he only wanted Rooney wounded, not killed.

Nichols is serving 25 years to life for Rooney’s murder, plus another 40 years for federal murder, drug and racketeering charges.

Meanwhile, his former top lieutenant, Howard “Pappy” Mason, is serving a federal life sentence on charges that include ordering the execution-style slaying of rookie NYPD cop Eddie Byrne, 22, who was gunned down in 1998 while guarding the house of witness in South Jamaica.

Mason was initially charged with being the gunman in Rooney’s slaying, but he scored a hung jury during his first trial and an acquittal at his retrial.

Another member of Nichols’ drug gang, Randolph Lucas, admitted firing the fatal shots as part of a 1992 guilty plea to federal racketeering charges and was sentenced to 29 years in prison.

Three other men, including Lucas’ brother, Eric Lucas, also pleaded guilty as accomplices to Rooney’s killing.

Veteran Queens defense lawyer Victor Knapp, who represented both Nichols and Mason recalled Rooney with fondness on Monday.

“Brian was a hard-working, personable guy. He was a nice guy,” Knapp said.

“It was a shock when this went down.”

Knapp also said “everyone was surprised” that Bellamy was involved in Rooney’s murder because he was known to have served as a police informant.

“Perry Bellamy has always been a puzzle, an enigma,” he said.

Bellamy turned rat against Nichols following his arrest in Rooney’s murder, prompting Nichols to allegedly take out a contract on his life, court records show.

Nichols is also suspected of having ordered the killing of Bellamy’s father, in a failed bid “to draw Bellamy into a non-secure area such as a hospital or funeral parlor where he could then be killed,” according to a ruling by the late Manhattan federal Judge Robert Sweet.

The state Parole Board previously refused to let Bellamy loose after he served the minimum of his 15 years-to-life sentence, ruling that the murder of Rooney — the married father of an 18-month-old son — was “preplanned and orchestrated as part of a professional hit directed at a public servant.”

But the board reversed that decision, making Bellamy, 58, eligible for release as early as Sept. 30, records show.

Through a spokesperson, the Parole Board declined Monday to detail the reasoning behind the move, identify the board members involved or immediately release a transcript of the hearing at which Bellamy won his eventual freedom.

The revelation of Bellamy’s impending release comes in the wake of the board’s controversial decision to spring Samuel Ayala, the ringleader among three men who beat, raped and fatally shot two moms during a 1977 home invasion in Westchester as the victims’ children listened to their screams of terror.

Ayala, 68, was eligible to go free as early as Thursday, but remained locked up at the Fishkill Correctional Facility in Dutchess County pending approval of where he’ll live as a Level 3 sex offender — the worst of the worst — once he’s released.

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