Who is Barbara Kogan? Manhattan ‘Black Widow’ free after 12 years behind bars for ordering husband's murder

She has been in prison for the past 12 years ever since the murder of George Kogan, an antique dealer


                            Who is Barbara Kogan? Manhattan ‘Black Widow’ free after 12 years behind bars for ordering husband's murder
Barbara Kogan (New York Police Department)

MANHATTAN, NEW YORK: Barbara Kogan, a 77-year-old murder convict from Manhattan, who ordered her wealthy husband's killing so she could collect $4.3 million in life insurance cash, has been released from prison. Infamously known as the 'Black Widow', Barbara has been in prison for the past 12 years ever since the murder of 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.

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 Barbara'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 2020 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.

A transcript of a parole hearing for Barbara earlier this year reportedly revealed that she pretended to be shocked to learn her husband had been shot. “Actually, when he was murdered, I was so astounded,” Barbara told two parole board members through video link from Taconic Correctional Facility in Bedford Hills, NY. Her statement blatantly contradicted her 2010 plea to conspiracy to commit murder and grand larceny. "I didn’t even — I didn’t think it was me,” the 'Black Widow' said. “I thought, ‘What is going on here?'” State records show that Barbara will continue to remain under parole supervision until 2038.

"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," the New York Post's Laura Italiano wrote. Over a month before Kogan's release, Hawkins had opened up about the incident after three decades, calling Barbara an "animal." She told the NY Post: "She’s an animal. Barbara is extremely good at manipulating people — even parole officers."

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