Now here's an interesting story in the paper. Its funny what a 3000 year sentence actually means in reality: "parole". Its also an insight into the mindset of violent sociopaths...not merely the results of financial poverty. too bad no one had a gun to at least try to prevent these horrors... What do you guys and gals think?
Memories of Terror
3 of 5 men convicted in 1982 crime spree are up for paroleby Oscar Corral
Before all the customers were forced to strip, before the two men were shot, before the young waitress was raped, there was only silence.The buzz of conversation in the Seacrest Diner Restaurant in Old Westbury in the early-morning hours of May 29, 1982, had suddenly been swallowed up. No forks clanked on plates of bacon and eggs, no orders rang out from waitresses to cooks. Just eerie stillness.Five young men weighed down with pistols, shotguns and blackjacks commanded all the attention. Some of them were smiling and laughing."They looked like they were having fun,” said cook Michael Laganas.The next 45 minutes marked the depraved crescendo of a night of plunder and savagery. That night, Long Islanders lost any lingering illusions they may have clung to that they could hide safely from crime behind their sprawling lawns or in the bright lights of their neighborhood diners. It was simply, the judge who tried the case said, "the most violent and obscene crime spree in the history of Nassau County.”"People still need to be reminded of this as one of those pure acts of evil,” said former Nassau police supervisor John Nolan, who was one of the lead investigators in the case.Nineteen years later, three of the men responsible -- Michael Williams, 41, his brother, Robert Williams, 38, and Bruce Garrison, 40 -- are up for parole from state prisons. The brothers appear before the parole board this week; Garrison, next month. Even if their requests are denied, the law requires that they be released next year.The looming parole hearings of the convicts has triggered a letter-writing campaign by some of the victims and Nassau District Attorney Denis Dillon to delay their releases as long as possible. Dillon, who successfully lobbied to stiffen sentencing laws after the incident, wants to further alter laws so that future convicts must serve more time for multiple crimes."I don't think they should ever get out,” Laganas said. "I don't think a single person has forgiven them.”The idea for the rampage was hatched on a Friday evening in an East New York park where Garrison, the Williams brothers, James Martin and Robert Samuels -- all from Brooklyn -- sometimes played basketball. All five of the men were high school dropouts, and all except Robert Williams, a stock clerk, were unemployed. All of them had committed crimes in the past.They decided they wanted to "go to Babylon to get paid.” They didn't literally mean the town in southwestern Suffolk, Nolan said."They were coming out to the suburbs, the land of milk and honey,” he said.First, the gang beat and robbed a group of men playing cards in a Flatbush parking garage and stole a late-model Cadillac for their trek to Long Island. They cruised east on the Northern State Parkway and exited at Manetto Hill Road shortly after midnight.The gang was intending to rob a diner, but, while looking for one, they saw cars parked outside the home of Janet and Thomas Reilly Sr. in Plainview and figured they would "take down the house,” as they later told police.The Reillys' 20-year-old son, Thomas Jr., was home from college and was giving a party for some of his former classmates from Kennedy High School. The 20 or so youths were in the basement, telling jokes and watching "Saturday Night Live” on television when the men entered the house. Garrison led his friends into the basement and yelled, "Get down and strip,” witnesses would later recall. At first, the party-goers thought someone was playing a joke. The Brooklyn men beat the ones who refused to take off their clothes. One of the gunmen went upstairs and nudged Thomas Reilly Sr. in the ribs with a shotgun to wake him up. In the Reillys' first interview last week, Janet Reilly recalled how she led one of the gunmen -- Garrison, she thinks -- through her home in search of things to steal and people to subdue."I thought I had built some sort of rapport with him,” she said. "What they did was something that we have to live with every day.”They marched the people upstairs in groups of three. Then they took the women to another room and sexually abused and raped several of them. The male victims felt powerless to help, witnesses later recalled. Before leaving, the robbers stood over the men lying on the living room floor and urinated on some of them. After stealing $8,000 in cash, jewelry and electronic goods, the gang emptied the trunk of their stolen Cadillac,tossing out a coat and several other items to make room for their loot.The night of terror had just begun. Ten miles away, the gang exited the Northern State Parkway at Glen Cove Road, saw the Seacrest Diner and decided it would make an easy score.It was a busy night on Memorial Day weekend, and the place was bustling at about 1 a.m. Laganas, the cook, was sitting at the counter drinking coffee on a break. Diner owner Nick Bouloukos was cutting fruit in the kitchen. Then, suddenly, the place went dead quiet as four heavily armed men walked in through the front door. A fifth man went in through the back, all of them barking out orders for people to get down.Grace Modica, who was working at the diner with her husband, Anthony, and their daughter, Veronica, remembers her husband grabbing her by the hand so they wouldn't be separated and leading her to the room with the other victims.About 80 patrons were herded to a side room and ordered to the ground as the five gunmen took command of the diner. The robbers began collecting jewelry and cash from customers, beating some along the way.When the marauders asked for the manager, Bouloukos raised his head from the floor and was pistol-whipped. Bouloukos still bears the scar on his face where his cheekbone was shattered. "I thought they just wanted to rob us,” Bouloukos said. "But it was much more than that.” Holding a shotgun, Robert Williams climbed onto a table and ordered everyone who had been ushered inside the room to strip naked. Those who refused were beaten. The Modicas said they didn't hesitate."When someone is standing on a table with guns, you'll just do what they say,” said Grace Modica, 60, who now lives in Fort Lauderdale with her retired husband. "You just don't have a choice. But it's something we didn't really think about. We were all in the same boat. I can see it happening like it was yesterday.”Soon, piles of clothes cluttered the aisles, and men and women were covering themselves with their arms and hands.Once nude, patrons were forced to simulate sexual intercourse on the floor in front of everyone. If they resisted, they were beaten or pistol-whipped. The gang took a young waitress to a back room and raped her. "They were animals,” Laganas said. "I could hear her screaming, but then they told her to shut up... No one screamed because they were scared. There was nothing anybody could do. I thought I might be dead.”After raping the woman and stealing all they could, the gang opened fire on the crowd, striking two men, and left the diner laughing.Bouloukos called police, and a sense of embarrassment and shock swept over the people inside, remembers Anthony Modica, 63."What's really funny is that if you go to a nude beach, people will gawk, but in that situation, nobody looked at anybody,” he said last week. "But as soon as they left, vanity took over. Women were grabbing for their skirts, men for their pants.”Nolan remembers arriving at the scene shortly after and standing stunned at the entrance of the diner."I was standing there for 30 seconds going, ‘What did I walk into?'” Nolan recalled. "The aftermath of the crime was all there. I looked around and saw nothing but clothes, underwear, female stockings, bandages, blood. The kind of stuff you'd see at a plane crash.”Investigators got a break in the case the next day. The coat the gang had tossed out of the Cadillac trunk at the Reilly house had the name of the car's owner written on a piece of paper in a pocket, enabling detectives to immediately link the suspects to Brooklyn.Three of the robbers -- Michael Williams, Martin and Samuel -- were captured in Brooklyn the next day after a shootout when police tried to arrest them. Robert Williams fled to Georgia but at the urging of his father turned himself in to police. Garrison's mother also persuaded her son to surrender. Their families could not be reached for comment for this story.Police recovered a picture the men took of themselves after their spree. It shows them smiling, brandishing guns, and a pile of cash.The five pleaded guilty in November 1982 to an 817-count indictment charging them with several attempted murders, the robberies of more than 120 people and numerous assaults and rapes. Each received sentences of more than 3,000 years. Samuels and Martin were later linked to a homicide in another case and were given longer sentences.The imminent release of three of the gunmen has sent shivers through some of their victims and has once again raised questions about sentencing limits. Samuels and Martin, who were eventually found guilty in an unrelated murder, will most likely spend the rest of their lives in prison. But the victims who were interviewed for this story say all five men are equally evil."They should let them out when they're 70, not now,” said Bouloukos, 60, who still runs the Seacrest. "It's going to be frightening down the road.”In an effort to postpone for one last year the parole of the three men who are eligible, Dillon, the Nassau district attorney, has spearheaded a letter-writing campaign to the parole board and is planning to propose state legislation that would increase the amount of time convicts can serve for concurrent prison sentences. In 1983, a year after the incident, Dillon convinced state lawmakers to raise the cap on prison time for people convicted of more than one Class B felony from 15 to 30 years to 25 to 50 years. Dillon now wants the cap removed."While nineteen years have passed since these crimes occurred, the victims are still left to deal with the memories of these defendants' nightmarish conduct,” Dillon wrote in his letter to the parole board. "Time has not dissipated the revulsion felt by residents of Nassau County toward these defendants' brutal, dehumanizing and violent assault on the victims' physical and psychological well being. No sentence could ever adequately compensate the victims for the indignity and the pain they suffered.”The Reillys said they wrote letters to the parole board asking it to deny early release to the Williams brothers and Garrison. They worry that the men, bitter at having spent so much time in prison, may be a threat to them in the future."They should never get out,” Thomas Reilly said. "I wouldn't want it to happen to anyone else.” Even as they fight to keep their tormentors in prison, many of the victims have tried to move beyond the night of May 29, 1982.After Bouloukos got out of the hospital, he remodeled the diner. His clientele dwindled because of bad publicity following the crime, but Bouloukos refused to lay off any of his staff. Nolan said empty diners were the norm in the weeks following the crime, as people refrained from eating out. Bouloukos has since installed security cameras and panic buttons. Nolan calls Bouloukos a survivor and a symbol of courage for not closing his doors.If the felons are released from prison, Bouloukos says his doors will remain open."To leave is not the answer,” he said. "I'm going to continue going on. You're not going to let yourself down.”Despite the horrors of that night, the Reillys said they never let it haunt them."It made us more appreciative of how close you are to your maker,” said Thomas Reilly, who still lives at the Plainview home with his wife. "It gave us more faith. There had to be someone there looking over us.”Janet Reilly said family members leaned on each other in the aftermath of the attack."We had a lot of communication in our family,” she said. "We were able to talk about it. We talked about it until we were tired of talking about it. We never internalized it.”For Anthony Modica, the night at the Seacrest was the most terrifying he had ever had, but he never let it affect his family or their attitudes about life. The Modicas moved to Fort Lauderdale in 1986 for a fresh start."When I walked out of the diner that night, I had my life,” Modica said. "I had my daughter by one hand and my wife by the other, and we were very thankful. It's been put behind me. It's just a bad memory.”