Biographies of the Commissioners
Thomas A. Beilein has been Chairman of the Commission of Correction since August 2008. He holds the distinction of being the only former sheriff in the history of the Commission to serve as its chair. He served as Niagara County Sheriff from 1994 to 2008, leading a 340-member, full-service law enforcement agency responsible for public safety in a region of 270 square miles, emergency services, correctional services and civil law enforcement services. He brings to the Commission a wealth of law enforcement and administrative experience, having worked in all facets of the Sheriff’s Office before leading the agency: corrections officer, road patrol officer, investigator and administrator.
A Vietnam War veteran and recipient of the Army Commendation Medal for Outstanding Service, Mr. Beilein served as a medic in Germany, Vietnam and at Fort Knox, Ky. for four years. Shortly after being honorably discharged in 1968, he began his law enforcement career when he was appointed a deputy with the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office. He worked as a correction officer in the jail and on the road patrol until he was transferred to the Niagara County Drug Task Force in 1976. He was reassigned to the Criminal Investigation Bureau in 1984, promoted to Senior Investigator in 1986 and promoted again to Chief Investigator in 1988. In 1990, he was again promoted, this time to Inspector, with responsibilities including the Criminal Bureau, the Welfare Fraud Bureau, Juvenile Aid and the Drug Task Force.
Mr. Beilein attended Niagara County Community College. He also has comprehensive and specialized training and experience in all aspects of law enforcement including major case management, criminal investigations, drug investigations, juvenile aid, welfare fraud, victims assistance, domestic violence, correctional management and police administration.
He is married and has four children and nine grandchildren. He has been a member of the New York State Sheriffs’ Association, National Sheriff's Association, International Association of Chiefs of Police, American Jail Association and American Correctional Association. In 2000, while sheriff, he was recognized as “Leader of the Year” by Leadership Niagara.
Thomas J. Loughren was appointed to the Commission by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in June 2013. Prior to serving as a Commissioner, he had a 40-year career in law enforcement, serving as a police officer, criminal investigator and the Chenango County Sheriff from 1992 to 2009. Mr. Loughren was instrumental in promoting coordination and cooperation among law enforcement agencies, fire departments and emergency medical services and was a pioneer in modernization of law enforcement and emergency services communication systems.
As sheriff, he directed all law enforcement activities of patrol, K-9, snowmobile and marine navigation, investigations, SWAT and public relations programs, as well as correction officers, school programs, mental health, medical, inmate work programs, commercial kitchen, and meals on wheels for seniors programs. His department was awarded New York State Accreditation in all of its four divisions. He was a member of the original New York State Counter Terrorism Committee from 2002 to 2009 and is a past president of the New York State Sheriffs’ Association. He has a bachelor’s degree from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, La.
Allen Riley served as the Madison County Sheriff for more than seven years before his appointment to the Commission by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in June 2017. As sheriff, he headed an agency with more than 160 employees among five divisions: Corrections, Criminal, Narcotics, Civil and Pistol Permit. He also oversaw the Madison County Child Advocacy Center, which investigates child physical and sexual abuse cases, and served as a member of Governor Cuomo’s Commission on Youth, Public Safety and Justice.
Prior to being elected sheriff, Mr. Riley was a 27-year veteran of the New York State Police, serving in Troop D as an investigator handling homicide and other serious cases and as a uniform trooper. He was a narcotics detection and explosives detection K-9 handler and field training officer, among other duties. Mr. Riley served on the board of directors of the New York State Sheriffs’ Institute; the New York State Association for Incarcerated Education Programs, and the Madison County Office of the Aging Advisory Council, among other positions. He was twice named the American Legion Law Enforcement Office of the Year in Madison County. He attended Morrisville State College (SUNY), and was the college’s commencement speaker in 2014.
Mr. Riley is married and has two daughters.
In Memoriam: Phyllis Harrison-Ross, M.D.
Long-time state Commission of Corrections Commissioner Dr. Phyllis Harrison-Ross died after a brief illness on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017, leaving behind an impressive record of public health advocacy in New York State. She was 81.
Dr. Harrison-Ross’ first service with the Commission came after Gov. Hugh Carey appointed her as the Medical Review Board’s psychiatrist in 1976. She was appointed as one of three commissioners in 2008 and became chairwoman of the Medical Review Board, which Board, which is responsible for determining the cause and circumstances of all deaths in custody.
During a lifetime of public service, Dr. Harrison-Ross accumulated an impressive array of distinctions, accolades, and awards, as evidenced by her biography. A champion of the underserved population, she pioneered public programs for children with developmental disabilities and mental illnesses in the New York City area. She authored two books, co-hosted a television program, radio show and served as a trustee for the New York Society for Ethical Culture, which later named an award for public service in her honor.
Her four decades of service at the Commission and to New York State has left a positive legacy that will last well into the future.