Published October 21, 2012
Parents of students attending a New York Catholic school are angry that a former police officer who served more than a decade in jail for killing a family of four in a drunken driving incident is now working at the school.
Last week, disgraced cop Joseph Gray, 51, was hired to work as a janitor at St. Clare’s School in Staten Island, the Staten Island Advance reported. He was conditionally discharged on April 27, after being denied parole three times, most recently in January of last year.
According to the paper, the pastor of St. Clare’s and the school’s principal wrote a letter to parents announcing the hiring of Gray.
“Mr. Gray shared his previous criminal record with us, and his background check results were reviewed by the Archdiocesan Safe Environment Office. Mr. Gray served a prison sentence for a tragic 2001 DWI incident that caused the loss of several lives,” the letter reads.
It continues, "Since the legal system is satisfied with Mr. Gray’s return to work, we believe he should be given the opportunity to do so, since ours is a faith of forgiveness and mercy."
The hiring didn’t sit well with a number of parents, who called the Advance to vent their concerns about their children’s safety. They wouldn’t give their names.
“Who’s to say he’s not going to act out?” said one parent. “We don’t know what he’s capable of doing. ... We can be merciful toward him, but I do believe that it’s a bad move to put him around children, especially small children.”
Gray was a 15-year NYPD veteran on Aug. 4, 2001, when he killed a family of four following a drinking binge that started midmorning in the parking lot of the 72nd Precinct stationhouse in Brooklyn and continued at a strip club that was off-limits to cops, the Advance recounted.
At 9 p.m. that night, Gray was on his way back to the stationhouse to try to get in a few hours of sleep before reporting for his overnight shift, when he mowed down a pregnant 23-year-old Maria Herrera; her 4-year-old son, Andy, and her 16-year-old sister, Dilcia Pena, as they crossed a Brooklyn street.
The infant Herrera was carrying died 13 hours after being delivered by emergency Caesarean section.
A Brooklyn jury convicted Gray of second-degree manslaughter in May 2002, and he was sentenced to five to 15 years.