The once-prominent New York City real estate developer Sean Ludwick killed Paul Hansen in a drunken-driving crash in Noyac seven years ago and his recent release from prison has caused even further anguish for the victim’s family.
“The release of the person who took the life of the father of my two boys has our entire family extremely upset,” said Catherine Hansen in a statement sent to Behind The Hedges Sunday night, in response to an earlier inquiry. “We are disappointed in what we believed to be a light sentence coupled with a release from prison before completing the sentence.”
In 2017, Ludwick was sentenced to three to nine years after he pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide, leaving the scene of an accident and aggravated driving while intoxicated for the August 30, 2015, crash. Hansen, who was 53 and worked as a real estate salesperson with Douglas Elliman, had children just 11 and 13.
“The system is broken in our opinion, especially given the fact that he is able to return to the community where he took the life of a husband, father and vibrant member of this community, without any thought as to how this will impact the victim’s family and loved ones,” Hansen said.
Since Ludwick was jailed in 2016 — when a judge revoked his $1 million bail following evidence he made arrangements to flee the country — he received credit for time served. The New York State Department of Corrections said legally he had to be released after serving two-thirds of his sentence, even though he was denied parole three times, most recently in September 2021.
The 49-year-old walked out of Otisville Correctional Facility on January 12, 2022. He is on parole until January of 2025, in Suffolk County’s jurisdiction. He still owns a home in Bridgehampton, just 1.2 miles away from where the Hansens live and where the crash occurred.
“The lack of compassion by the system is truly astounding,” Hansen’s widow continued. “To say that we are angry is an understatement. To say that our faith in the justice system is shaken doesn’t adequately describe how we feel. There is truly a need to reform sentencing guidelines and the parole system. Reform in a situation like this is especially important so that people who, after killing someone, have shown no remorse, and attempted to flee the jurisdiction prior to being convicted, are punished accordingly.
“In this instance, and so many others, the punishment did not fit the crime. The criminal is free to move on with his life and even return to the same neighborhood where he took so much from so many. The family of the victim is left empty, broken and still trying to heal while dealing with the reality of the felon living around the corner. This is wrong on so many levels.”
Hansen asked for space as they deal with the situation, which, she said, “for our family will never allow us to return to a normal life.”
Hansen filed a wrongful death suit against Ludwick on behalf of his children in October 2015. The case was settled out of court in 2018.