‘Joanne’s Law’ would warn against disgruntled employees freed from jail

joanne's lawA bill that would better protect New Yorkers in the workplace passed the Senate and was sent to the Assembly for consideration this week.

Bill S.1677, known as Joanne’s Law, would provide a warning when a former employee who was convicted of a crime committed in the workplace is released from jail or violates their probation or parole.

The bill was written in response to a 2005 incident in which an employee of an Orange County cosmetic factory — who was fired and later sentenced to 10 years’ probation — returned to the office of his former employer and shot three managers. One of the victims was Joanne O’Brien of Greenwood Lake, who later died of her injuries, and for whom the law is named.

The killer, Victor Piazza, had been fired from Verla International in New Windsor in 2004 when child pornography was found on his office computer. A year later, his probation officer found alcohol and pornography in his home during a surprise visit — a violation of the terms of his parole — and just days later, he returned to his former workplace and shot his three former supervisors. Two of them survived, but O’Brien, age 48, did not.

Piazza had maintained that his bosses framed him for the child pornography charges

“This law will hopefully prevent a repeat of this tragedy.  If the employer had been notified, it would have enabled him to take the proper measures or precautions to protect himself and his employees,” said Senator John Bonacic, R-Mount Hope, the bill’s sponsor. “My hope is that the Assembly will act quickly to pass this bill, and send it to the governor’s desk, which would bring much needed piece of mind to New Yorkers.”

The bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Diane Savino, D-Staten Island, but does not have any sponsors in the Assembly, as of press time.