Press Room

On Anniversary of Greg Mingo’s Unjust Sentencing, Renewed Call for Clemency from Cuomo

Jan 26, 2021


January 26, 2021

On Anniversary of Greg Mingo’s Unjust Sentencing, Renewed Call for Clemency from Cuomo

Over 80,000 have signed petition started by Mingo’s niece Ava Nemes; along with celebrity endorsers Riz Ahmed, Daniel Kaluuya and Megan Rapinoe

New York, NY, January 26, 2021 — 38 years ago, now-68-year-old Greg Mingo was sentenced for crimes he didn’t commit. Mingo’s niece Ava Nemes, with the support of her family, started a viral petition that’s already gained over 84,000 signatures and counting calling for Governor Andrew Cuomo to grant Mingo clemency. The COVID-19 pandemic, which has disproportionately taken the lives of Black Americans and wreaked havoc on prisons throughout the United States, raises the stakes even higher.

In a recent WNYC story about Mingo, Gov. Cuomo was called ”one of the stingiest grantors of clemency in the country,” and a recent statement from the Release Aging People in Prison Campaign bore that out, finding that Cuomo has granted clemency to less than 1% of applicants in 2020. 

In 1981, despite there being no physical evidence, Mingo was wrongfully accused and charged in a double murder and robbery that took place in Queens one year earlier. Despite initially being offered a plea deal, Mingo maintained his innocence the entire time – and even though he had an alibi witness, his defense never called them to testify. 

Two years later, on Jan 26, 1983, Mingo was sentenced by Queens Supreme Court Justice Thomas Agresta, who was later censured for judicial misconduct and community harm after he used the N-word in open court in reference to a Black defendant. According to Ava’s petition, “Only a Black man in New York in the 1980s could have been convicted on such thin allegations and sent away for so long.” Mingo was sentenced to 50 years to life; what some refer to as “death by incarceration.”

Law students from the CUNY Law Defenders Clinic have joined the campaign advocating for clemency for Mingo and countless others who have already served long sentences. They’ve helped file a clemency application calling on Governor Cuomo to show compassion for Mingo and release him from prison. High-profile endorsers of Mingo’s clemency petition include actors Riz Ahmed, Daniel Kaluuya, and Shantira Jackson, as well as pro soccer player Megan Rapinoe. 

“For so long I wondered how I might be able to help my Uncle Greg get the freedom he deserves. And for so long it’s felt like a losing game with no instructions, riddled with countless disappointments along the way. There is no roadmap for how to free an innocent Black man who was wrongfully convicted 40 years ago by an unjust system,” Ava Nemes said exclusively to in a statement. “My mother and I loved and supported Uncle Greg over the years in every way we knew how, but it didn’t bring him home. We created this petition in the hopes that once people heard Greg’s story, they’d see for themselves what I’ve known for my entire life – that Greg is an incredible person who inspires everyone around him and that he should be free.” 

For forty years my brother has been trying to prove his innocence. As his sister I offered my love and support but I felt powerless to have any real impact on his situation,” said Greg’s sister Evonne Nemes. “I know nothing about the law, I am not wealthy, and I don’t know influential people. I didn’t even know how to really be an advocate for someone caught up in the criminal justice system…the idea to start a petition and to advocate for Greg’s release grew from the strong bonds and a sense of community among [Ava and her friends], and I believe from a desire to create a more just society.”

“Ava’s petition to free her uncle, Greg Mingo, has gained a remarkable amount of support,” said Michael Jones, Managing Director of Campaigns at “We hope Governor Cuomo will listen to over 80,000 signers, which include his family, friends, and legal experts, and grant him clemency.” 


Photos of Greg and his family

Videos of Greg

Supporter videos

For more information, or to speak with Greg Mingo’s family and supporters or a representative from, please contact For additional information, please visit


ABOUT CHANGE.ORG is the world’s home for people-powered change. It’s free to use — funded by the people who use it — and open to all. Over 300 million people use our petition and campaign tools to speak up on issues they’re passionate about.


Amanda Mustafic

Deputy Director of Communications, |