Oldest Prison Inmate in New York Has Been Freed

Now he's free to enjoy life.

At 89 years old.

Charles E. Friedgood, avoided being fried good on the electric chair and is now out. He was a wealthy surgeon in Long Island who was convicted way back in 1976 of murdering his wife and is now in a veteran's hospital.

“There is a reasonable probability that, if released, this inmate will live and remain at liberty without violating the law,” said the parole commissioners. Yeah, I'll definitely agree that at age 89, his best crime years are behind him.

He will now participate in an anger management course (undoubtedly the “old guy” at the classes), will undergo a mental evaluation, and cannot contact the victim's family. Which happens to include his own children and grandkids unless there's a parole officer present.

Sixth times' a charm

He actually was considered for release six times before they let him free.

“While some have formally expressed opposition to this inmate's release, for various reasons, they are significantly outnumbered by those expressing support for his release.”

Money was a factor

Now don't go thinking that the parole commission was being really nice that day and decided to let this ol' grandfather go. Money plays a role. The doctor has terminal cancer, has undergone many operations, including a colostomy. All these have amounted to $300,000 in costs for the state.

How did he murder his wife?

Originally, the investigators on the case ruled that his wife Sophie died from a stroke. This was recorded on her death certificate. However, the police were very suspicious because Dr. Friedgood signed the death certificate himself and then made sure her body was rushed out of New York for a quick burial. When the medical examiners fully examined the body, they discovered he used his state medical license to get responsibility for his ailing wife and then inject her five times with Demerol which killed her. He was then arrested five weeks later at Kennedy International Airport with $450,000 of his wife's money, bonds, and jewelry. He was actually on his way to Europe to hook up with his mistress, who was a Danish nurse with whom he had two kids already with. He was then tried and subsequently convicted of second-degree murder.

Final comments by the parole commissioners

One commissioner, Chris Ortloff, vigorously opposed the release. He felt that releasing Dr. Friedgood, “so deprecates the seriousness of his offenses, the murder of his wife and subsequent grand larceny of hundreds of thousands of dollars from her estate, as to undermine respect for the law. In colloquial terms, this case, given the inmate's advanced age and medical prognosis, raises the proverbial question: ‘If any offense deserves the maximum sentence of life in prison, does this one not do so?'”

Most, however, were sympathetic to Dr. Friedgoods advanced age.

“During your interview, you repeatedly cited your status as a senior citizen. It is important to recognize that your actions deprived your wife of the ability to enjoy such status.” said commissioner Thomas P. Grant. However, “the likelihood of your engaging in criminal activity in the community is virtually non-existent.”

Should senior citizen status be enough to parole a convicted murderer?