ROCKLAND COUNTY TIMES
A famous Rockland County murder may see one of its two assailants walk free if all goes according to schedule.
Kenneth Hiep, Sr. was discovered February 23, 1992 butchered and covered in debris in a ravine on Clausland Mountain in Blauvelt, New York. Hiep was successful in the trash business, but he also had mob ties. It was those ties that came back to end his life in the famous case that later inspired a book by then Rockland County Medical Examiner Frederick Zugibe.
Hiep was last seen with associate Charles Hemstreet and his employee Patrick Bentz at Lace cabaret in Blauvelt and another local bar. Lo and behold authorities found ample evidence tracing the case back to the pair, both mob connected, as well.
After a long appeal process due to prosecutorial mishandling of the case, both Bentz and Hemstreet were convicted of murder in the second degree. Hemstreet was sentenced to prison for 25 years to life and Bentz to a term of 23 years to life.
Now after serving his minimum sentence in state prison, Patrick Bentz has been paroled by a Board of three parole commissioners. He had been considered for early release a year prior.
Bentz is scheduled to be released from state prison on September 3, 2016, pending relocation approval from the Department of Corrections and Community Service. Hemstreet is not scheduled to be considered for parole until November 2019. Hemstreet is housed in Eastern Correctional Facility in Ulster County.
Bentz’s release is a continuation on what appears to be a pattern by the Department of Corrections to release convicted felons that have served long prison terms. With prisons claiming to be overcrowded and budgetary cuts in the Department of Corrections as well as continuing threats by Governor Cuomo to shut down more prisons, the strain on the prison system is at a critical level.
Bentz is currently housed in Woodbourne Correctional Facility in Sullivan County. Woodbourne is a medium-security prison, which means that Bentz has “earned” the privilege of being downgraded from a “maximum” security risk to a medium.
This was likely a factor in the Parole Board’s determination that his prison stint has been acceptable. Bentz still needs to make arrangements as to where he will reside once released. Currently, Department of Corrections officials are unaware as to where he intends to live once released.