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'Black Widow' Barbara Kogan admits spending $4.3M insurance money she got after hiring hitman to kill husband

Kogan was granted parole in July after serving 12 years of a possible 36-year sentence
(New York Police Department)
(New York Police Department)

Barbara Kogan, a notorious 77-year-old murder convict from Manhattan, infamously known as Black Widow, is planning to work as an anti-violence counselor after her release from prison last month. Kogan reportedly has also admitted that she claimed the $4.3million life insurance left by her husband she had killed and spent every last dime of it. 

Kogan, who ordered her wealthy husband's killing so she could collect $4.3 million in life insurance cash, was granted parole in July after serving 12 years of a possible 36-year sentence. Barbara had been in prison ever since the murder of her husband George Kogan, an antique dealer, who was shot on an Upper East Side sidewalk. Kogan was freed from Taconic State Prison, a women's prison in Westchester County, on Thursday, November 19, according to state records.

A transcript of Kogan's parole board hearing was obtained by the Daily Mail, which revealed details of her sensational release. Kogan appeared before two parole board members through a video link from her prison facility in New York. The murder convict, in a contradictory account of events to the parole board this summer, claimed she lied to the trial judge to secure her plea deal; to have taken her husband's $4.3million life insurance though she knew it was wrong; and to have been "astounded" when she heard he had been murdered, the outlet reported.

Mary-Louise Hawkins, the girlfriend of married millionaire George Kogan, 49, ran out of her apartment in New York after she heard three gunshots on October 23, 1990. She found George, a son of Holocaust survivors, lying on the sidewalk in a pool of blood. There were three bullet wounds in the back of George's head. His estranged wife's behavior, however, became increasingly suspicious in the days after the tragedy. Prosecutors said that as her husband lay dying in the hospital, she skipped visiting him and instead hired a hairstylist to make up her hair for $500. Barbara, according to prosecutors, paid divorce lawyer Miguel Martinez to arrange the hit on her husband. The alleged hitman in the case, identified in court as Paul Prosano, was not charged for George's murder.

Barbara, meanwhile, absconded and hid for years in Puerto Rico. Nearly seven months after Martinez was convicted in the killing and 18 years after George's death, Barbara was finally arrested in November 2008.

George's niece, at Barbara's sentencing hearing in June 2010, recounted that "Barbara occasionally smirked at me as I mourned and wept." Barbara, during a series of hearings, also earned the nickname of "Black Widow" for the dark clothing she wore in court. She pleaded guilty to the crime in 2010 after being charged of manslaughter, conspiracy, and grand larceny. Prosecutors eventually sought a plea deal in her case because they feared that their circumstantial case would be difficult to prove in court.

Kogan, at the trial, had reportedly admitted to traveling to Puerto Rico with Martinez where they planned to kill George and secured the funds. However, when she was questioned by Parole Board Commissioner Otis Cruse earlier this year, she appeared to backtrack, saying: "We didn't get that money, it wasn't planned on the back of an airplane whatsoever, no, not that I know of." When it was pointed out that her account differed from what was on the record, she said: 'Well, I took a plea and they asked me all these questions, I just said yes…I said yes just to agree with what I said during my plea." She claimed that she was aware of her crime and felt "horrible" for what she had done.

The 77-year-old also showed no compunction in fighting for the $4.3million life insurance policy after her husband's death. When parole board broached the subject, asking if she had received the money, she gave a confusing account, saying: "Yes I did. Now, I just want to add what [sic] has nothing to do with the fact of my guilt. I am guilty. At the same time, I was advised by his [inaudible] to call [redacted] and ask him to give me copies of the policies because I wanted to know – because we were getting ready to settle for divorce and we were going to use the cash value to settle money for our divorce…. Unfortunately, a week later or so…he was killed."

When the use of her word "unfortunately," was questioned during the parole hearing, Kogan claimed, "Actually when he was murdered, I was so astounded. I didn't even think it was me. I really didn't."

She also admitted that nearly $2.8million of the life insurance went to her husband's estate, and the rest went to her. "That left for me about maybe $1.5million and I put aside for my children, so $1.3million," she added that she felt "horrible" about claiming the money. However, when asked if she tried to give it back, she said: "I didn't because we used it up."

Kogan also revealed that she had completed courses in both the prison's Anti-Violence Program (AVP) and Aggression Replacement Training (ART) and intended to enroll in Lehman College in the Bronx and volunteer at an outpatient facility.