Prisoner commits suicide after gaining freedom because of COVID-19

A man who was arrested for carrying gasoline and lighters into St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York died by suicide after he was released from a secure psychiatric hospital where the coronavirus was spreading, his lawyer said.

Marc Lamparello, a former college professor, died April 17, attorney Christopher DiLorenzo said Thursday.

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Lamparello had been released from the Mid-Hudson Forensic Psychiatric Center in New Hampton, New York, last month. His death illustrates one potential risk of an ongoing campaign to release prisoners in order to protect them from the virus — some inmates have mental health problems and won’t necessarily receive services outside prison walls.

After being released from state custody, Lamparello “languished without therapeutic treatment,” DiLorenzo said. “He was a good person but he had mental health issues.”

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Lamparello, 38, of Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, was arrested April 17, 2019, after entering the landmark cathedral carrying two cans of gasoline, lighter fluid and butane lighters, officials said.

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He had been arrested at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in New Jersey earlier in the week and had booked a flight to Rome, authorities said.

A Manhattan judge found Lamparello mentally unfit for trial after his arrest. He had been expected to enter mental health court after receiving treatment at the Mid Hudson Forensic Center and later evaluated by special court staff, who recommended his participation in the program.

Prosecutors said Lamparello, who had taught philosophy as an adjunct professor at Lehman College in New York City and Seton Hall University in New Jersey, spent a considerable amount of time surveilling St. Patrick’s.

Lamparello pleaded not guilty to attempted arson and reckless endangerment.