Ray Kelly Tried to Stop Actor's Early Prison Release After NYPD Shooting
Kelly, in his last month as the city’s top police officer, wrote a letter to the board stating that the actor’s early exit following a crime that led to the shooting death of an off-duty NYPD officer would “send the wrong message to the general public and law enforcement personnel.”
“It has come to my attention that inmate Lillo Brancato is being granted a limited credit conditional release next month,” Kelly wrote in the Dec. 9, 2013 letter. “Brancato was involved in the shooting death of a New York City police officer, and I am writing to express my opposition to his release.”
DNAinfo New York obtained Kelly’s letter last week from the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision after submitting a Freedom of Information Law request nearly five months ago. Kelly was the only person to write a letter in opposition to or in support of Brancato’s release.
Brancato, 37, was let out of prison on Dec. 31, 2013 — six months earlier than his expected release date of July 1 — because he had earned college credit and met disciplinary criteria, according to the corrections department.
The actor, who had a bit part on “The Sopranos,” spent nearly 10 years in prison for an attempted robbery that led to the shooting death of off-duty NYPD officer Daniel Enchautegui.
On the night of Dec. 10, 2005, Brancato and Steven Armento tried to break into a Bronx home. Enchautegui heard the commotion from his own home and responded, identifying himself as an officer and ordering the pair to stop.
Armento shot Enchautegui, striking him in the chest, but the officer was able to return fire, hitting Armento four times and Brancato twice.
“While Steven Armento was convicted of murder, Lillo Brancato was only convicted of attempted burglary. However, there is no question that Brancato’s actions contributed directly to death of a police officer,” Kelly wrote in his letter.
“Given Brancato’s role in Officer Enchautegui’s murder, I believe his release will send the wrong message to the general public and law enforcement personnel.”
Brancato learned of his early release in late November. The corrections department said the release was determined by him fulfilling criteria set under a state statute — and the parole board had no say in it.
But the department said the board sets parole terms for early-release inmates and takes into consideration any letters of support and opposition to the release.
Brancato, who lives in Yonkers, is under parole supervision until Dec. 31, 2018, and is required to attend substance abuse treatment programs.
The actor, who recently wrapped filming a movie in which he plays a priest, could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
However, he tweeted that afternoon that he had just given a motivational speech to students at Mount Vernon High School.