We are pleased to announce that the governor of New York has granted a sentence commutation to our client, Teara Fatico, reducing her sentence in connection with a 2011 burglary by two years. She will be eligible for release on parole in January 2021.
Ms. Fatico had cooperated with the Niagara County District Attorney’s Office to prosecute her then-boyfriend, who was the mastermind of the crime. Even though she testified in the case, her sentence was still originally set at 13 years following a guilty plea for attempted burglary in the first degree.
The victim of the robbery died during its commission, although Ms. Fatico was not present at the time. Gov. Cuomo announced the move along with two other clemencies in a press release issued earlier today. The announcement was immediately criticized by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and Families Against Mandatory Minimums as insufficient. FAMM and NACDL sponsor a clemency project that has partnered with more than 200 lawyers from 60 firms to present clemency petitions to the New York governor. NACDL/FAMM has submitted 120 petitions to Gov. Cuomo, but only two have been granted thus far, one of them today.
Ms. Fatico’s lawyer, Zachary Margulis-Ohnuma, is a life member of NACDL and a supervising attorney in the clemency project. His client Felipe Rodriguez received executive clemency in December 2016, just two months after Mr. Margulis-Ohnuma submitted his petition along with the Innocence Project. Mr. Rodriguez was fully exonerated less than two years later.
Ms. Fatico had to wait more than two-and-a-half years before the governor announced her clemency.
“We’re happy for the handful of people who received a much deserved second chance, but the governor’s action fails to meet the moment,” said FAMM President Kevin Ring. “While a deadly virus continues to spread in New York’s prisons and jails, and while the country reflects on how racial inequity has led to disparities in our criminal justice system, our elected leaders need to do more to ensure justice for all. We urge Governor Cuomo to use his clemency authority more boldly.”
Ms. Fatico focused on college courses and caring for infants during her stay at New York’s women’s prisons. She has been fully rehabilitated and is looking forward to being reunited with her family early next year.