Manhattan’s infamous ‘Black Widow’ makes parole

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On Friday, it will be 30 years to the day since three gunshots rang out over East 69th Street on the Upper East Side, and Mary-Louise Hawkins ran out of her apartment to find her married, millionaire boyfriend, George Kogan, dying on the sidewalk.

Fiercely private since the sensational Oct. 23, 1990 murder, Hawkins has kept her silence until now — because Barbara Kogan, the vengeful wife who paid for those three bullets, is getting out on parole.

“She’s an animal,” Hawkins told The Post of the woman reviled in the tabloids as the “Black Widow.”

“Barbara is extremely good at manipulating people — even parole officers.”

Kogan, 77 — who notoriously had her hair done as her estranged husband died in an operating room at a New York hospital, and who eluded justice for the next two decades before finally being arrested in 2008 — will be paroled next month after only 12 years behind bars.

The state is springing her despite a farcical, July 7 parole hearing, in which she claimed she never had designs on her estranged husband’s $4 million life insurance policy.

She also claimed she was shocked to learn he’d been shot, a transcript of the proceeding reveals.

“Actually, when he was murdered, I was so astounded,” Kogan told two parole board members via videoconference from Taconic Correctional Facility in Bedford Hills, NY — flatly contradicting her 2010 plea to conspiracy to commit murder and grand larceny.

Barbara Kogan in 1990.
Barbara Kogan in 1990.New York Post

“I didn’t even — I didn’t think it was me,” insisted the Black Widow — nicknamed for the bespoke, funereal clothes she’d wear to court.

“I thought, ‘What is going on here?”

Kogan’s claimed befuddlement, her clean prison discipline record, and her brusque apology — “I feel horrible, okay?” she snapped at one point — were apparently enough to convince the parole board that she can be safely released back into society.

But Hawkins, who was 28 years old at the time Kogan, 49, was murdered, is not convinced.

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Over the past 30 years, Hawkins has married and made a new life for herself overseas, though she would return to Manhattan frequently, to meet with prosecutors, testify before three grand juries, and help prosecutors convict Barbara’s drug-addled divorce lawyer, Manuel Martinez, of arranging the hit for $40,000.

In the 20 years it took for her to see a prison cell, Barbara Kogan, meanwhile, waged a war of harassment,  Hawkins told the parole board in a victim impact letter she shared with The Post.

“She managed to obtain my parents’ unlisted telephone number and occasionally dialed them in the middle of the night in order to catch them off guard — to remind them yet again that she wanted the money and valuables she thought George had left behind,” she wrote the parole board.

Hawkins hoped to escape the press and Kogan’s wrath when she fled to Europe three years after the murder, in 1993.

But “just as I would begin to breathe,” she told the board, “thinking I was finally free of her, either Barbara or one of her hirlings would call unexpectedly with more than a hint of malice.”

The cruelty and senselessness of George Kogan’s end has also never left Hawkins.

Mary Louise Hawkins, from the Brown University yearbook 1985.
Mary Louise Hawkins, from the Brown University yearbook 1985.

“You have no idea what real panic and despair is until you see someone you love lying face down in a pool — no, a torrent of blood,” she wrote the parole board.

The 44-caliber, hollow-point or so-called “cop killer” bullets “were designed to do maximum damage to the internal organs,” she noted to the parole board.

Two of the bullets would be recovered from Kogan’s body, and the third, which passed through him, from the sidewalk.

The revolver itself disappeared forever, back into the waistband of a man in a bright green baseball cap who walked calmly from the scene and has never been caught.

“Go get Mary-Louise, I’m dying,” the stricken Kogan told the doorman — his last words, Hawkins told The Post.

“The doorman banged on my front door and said come quickly, there’s been an accident” Hawkins remembered in a recent phone interview.

“There was blood everywhere. I thought he’d been in an accident. But there were three bullet holes in his back” she said.  “That’s when I lost it.”

“It’s the wife!” witnesses have said Hawkins screamed over Kogan’s body.

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“He was a sweetie,” Hawkins told The Post of George Kogan.

“He was a big kid,” she said.

“He just wanted a nice, quiet life. He loved music, art, architecture, photography … but he had never had a life,” despite the millions in real estate he inherited and managed, she said.

Born into a family that owned a prosperous chain of department stores in Puerto Rico, Kogan had little self-esteem as a kid.

“His mother lavished attention on his older brother, who was better looking,” Hawkins said. “He told me his mother used to call him fat and lazy.

“Then, he ran into this woman,” Hawkins said of Barbara, who had met the wealthy George when they were both young college students in Manhattan.

“And she utterly destroyed him.”

George Kogan.
George Kogan.New York Post

Hawkins spoke to The Post on condition that any details that could identify her — her current name, her husband’s name, even which country they live in — be omitted from the story.

She has remained wary not only of Kogan, but of the press, which had camped outside her door after her Brown University yearbook photo was splashed across the front pages of New York’s tabloids.

In the weeks after the murder, hate mail, and overtures from talk show hosts who “felt her pain,” flooded her mailbox.

Random inmates wrote from jail, promising to rape her as soon as they got out. Grief-stricken, she contemplated suicide.

“I had been cast as someone’s mistress — the tarted-up young lady,” even though the Kogans had been estranged for two years prior to the murder, and Barbara herself had taken a state department worker as a lover.

Hawkins insists she had never pursued George in the months after meeting the Kogans in 1988, when they hired her as a publicist for their chic new Madison Avenue antiques store.

At first, George reminded her of her own father.

“He started showing up at my door early in the morning with my favorite coffee cake, and he’d walk me to work, and talk to me about how miserable he was,” she said.

The couple’s two sons, William and Scott, were grown and living on their own, leaving the Kogans’ apartment on E. 74th Street feeling like the tomb of a moribund marriage.

“She wouldn’t let George in the bedroom with her,” Hawkins said of Barbara.

“He was sleeping in the spare room,” she said.

“George told me Barbara called him fat, and said that he disgusted her — just like his mother had said.

“When I met him he was so miserable, he was slowly killing himself by eating,” she said.

“He wouldn’t want to go home — he would wander the streets buying food. He had his route — ramen noodles, cookies.”

Then, “he would go home, and listen to music and weep and eat.”

Smitten by Hawkins, Kogan told his wife he wanted a divorce.

It was early 1989 when he served her with papers and moved into Hawkins’ one-bedroom, E. 69th street apartment.

His new life was a happy revelation.

George had spent the previous 25 years married to a woman who spent $100,000 of his money each year on clothes, jewelry and beauty treatments, including daily visits to a hairstylist, Hawkins said.

“He was amazed when he realized I washed my own hair,” Hawkins remembered with a laugh.

“He would say, ‘Don’t you need me to make you an appointment?’ I’d say, ‘For what?’ I’d say ‘Watch this’ — and I washed my own hair.”

Hawkins and Kogan were in love, and planning their future.

“We were going to go to Italy, and look for a property, and develop a hotel,” she said.

The day he was shot, he and Barbara were going to flesh out a final divorce agreement, after nearly two years of rancorous negotiations.

“He woke up that morning, looked out the window, and it was pouring rain,” Hawkins remembered.

“I hate days like this,” he grumbled.

Still, he needed to go out, to the grocery store. He was coming back with bags of groceries when he was shot.

“I’ll be right back,” he had told Hawkins.

Barbara Kogan with Lawyer Norman Donald
Barbara Kogan with Lawyer Norman DonaldNew York Post

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“You’ve done a lot of work, madam,” one of the parole board members congratulates Kogan at the end of the hearing, after reviewing her record of treatment programs, and the volunteer counseling work she has done while in prison.

“Thank you,” Kogan answers.

“It takes a lot to muster up the strength and endurance to continue on after trauma,” the parole board member says. “We will take that into consideration as well.”

Then he adds, “You’re laughing. Did I say something that offended you?”

“No,” Kogan answers.

“Okay. Very good,” the parole board member says.

‘We’re going to deliberate, write our decision, and send it to your attention.”

Hawkins thinks she knows what Kogan found amusing.

“She’s laughing because she fooled them — and she knows she has,” Hawkins said.

Ten days after the hearing, the parole board signed its decision and notified Hawkins by mail.

“I”m disgusted, I really am,” Hawkins told The Post.

“My main goal was to make sure she stays away from her sons, because she will coerce them and try to get them to feel sorry for her.

“They’ve been through enough,” Hawkins said.

The decision cannot be appealed, notes police widow Diane Piagentini, who blames Gov. Cuomo’s lenient parole board appointees for the inexplicable release of her husband’s Black Revolutionary Army assassin, Herman Bell.

Amazingly, the parole board even recently released a convict who had murdered a parole officer.

That inmate, Perry Bellamy, was sprung despite denying committing the crime during his parole board hearing.

“Where is justice?” Piagentini asked, after she was told of the Kogan parole.

“Right now, there is no justice. I know. It boggles your mind,” said the widow, who believes the state is offloading older inmates with reckless abandon, just to lower costs.

Bell killed officers Joseph Piagentini and Waverly Jones in 1971, leaving Diane Piagentina a young widow.

He, fellow convicted cop-killer Anthony Bottom, and murderer-rapist Samuel Ayala are among the new parolees who have prompted outraged state lawmakers to push a new bill giving the Legislature more oversight over the parole board.

“If he’s letting out cops killers,” Piagentini told The Post of the governor, “that means the flood gates are just open.”

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