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Abortion Clinic Bomber Gets Seven Years; Vows No More Bombings

September 3, 1987

NEW YORK (AP) _ A man who bombed one abortion clinic and tried to bomb another was sentenced Wednesday to seven years in prison and said he would heed Cardinal John O’Connor and not bomb again.

Dennis John Malvasi surrendered in February following a televised plea by O’Connor, the Roman Catholic archbishop of New York.

Under questioning by the sentencing judge, Malvasi, 37, promised he would not use dynamite in the future to protest abortion but avoided acknowledging that the bombings were wrong.

″The big issue here is the slaughtering of lives,″ said Malvasi. ″I’d like to ask you one question, your honor. Is abortion murder?″

U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa declined to answer the question but before passing sentence pressed Malvasi on whether he understood he could not violate the law no matter what his motivation. He could have sentenced him to 30 years and a $755,000 fine.

″I know I broke the law,″ said Malvasi, a Roman Catholic from Brooklyn. ″What the cardinal says is (the) word. If he says do not do it, I cannot do it. That supersedes man’s law. Whether it’s right or wrong - that’s his problem. It’s no longer mine.″

A spokesman for the archdiocese was not immediately available when called for comment.

Malvasi, a Vietnam veteran and former Marine Corps demolition expert, pleaded guilty in June to bombing a Manhattan abortion clinic and planting a bomb at another one in Queens. He also pleaded guilty to making a telephone threat to one of the clinics and falsely acquiring firearms in Florida.

Malvasi, also a fireworks expert, worked at the Statue of Liberty centennial pyrotechnic display last year.

The object of a massive manhunt when he surrendered following O’Connor’s televised plea to give up, Malvasi has admitted placing bombs at two other abortion clinics.

Griesa said he was ″duty-bound under our system of law to take certain mitigating circumstances into account,″ noting Malvasi’s service record ″in a very difficult war,″ the fact that no one was injured or killed by the bombs and his sincere religious beliefs.

Malvasi was ″not someone who went out and hijacked a truck,″ said Griesa, but called his actions ″very misguided, certainly anti-social and illegal - motivated by his religious beliefs.″

Defense lawyer Roland Thau described Malvasi’s life as one of ″sadness, deprivation, torment and lack of guidance.″

He noted that Malvasi, one of 13 children, had spent a dozen years in a children’s home and enlisted in the Marines at 17.

After duty in Vietnam, Malvasi was a ″fish out of water″ who threw himself ″headlong into religious fervor,″ said Thau.

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