The Village Voice has a long and damning profile of Brooklyn's District Attorney Charles Hynes, known mostly to us for his apparent favoritism in handling haredi child sexual abuse cases.
Here's an excerpt from the Voice's piece that will show you how dangerous Hynes' office really is:
…No one personifies the loyal Hynes lieutenant better than Michael Vecchione, a longtime member of the Brooklyn D.A.'s office and now chief of the Rackets Division.…
Jabbar Collins, who spent 16 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit, says he was railroaded by Hynes’s office.
Attorney Mark Bederow relentlessly pursued justice for Ronald Bozeman in the face of constant gamesmanship by Hynes’s office.
Yet keep happening they do. Vecchione was lead prosecutor in the murder trial of Jabbar Collins, who was convicted by the testimony of three witnesses in the 1994 slaying of Rabbi Abraham Pollack:
Angel Santos claimed he saw Collins running from the scene. He later said under oath that Vecchione threatened to hit him with a coffee table and make him stay in jail unless he testified.
A second witness, Edwin Oliva, had claimed he was present when Collins plotted the murder. But a retired detective later said Oliva recanted the story in police interviews—information Vecchione never turned over to Collins's defense lawyer, as he is required to do. According to claims in Collins's lawsuit, Vecchione also got Oliva's work release from prison revoked and threatened to keep him in prison until he testified against Collins. This alleged extortion also was not disclosed to the defense.
The third witness, Edwin Diaz, said he got a deal in which he would testify against Collins if the prosecutors helped him in clearing a probation violation. This, too, was withheld from the defense.
Collins served 16 years for a murder he did not commit. When no one would listen to his pleas of innocence, he taught himself legal procedure and eventually found his way to freedom with the help of lawyer Joel Rudin, who says the evidence shows a "pervasive pattern of continuous misconduct by every assistant district attorney who touched this case over 16 years."
Of course, remarks like that might be expected from a plaintiff's lawyer, but a little more than a month ago, during a hearing on Collins's wrongful conviction lawsuit against the city, U.S. District Judge Frederic Block made a similar statement from the bench. After bemoaning the fact that, under the rules, Vecchione will "regrettably" get "total immunity" from being personally sued, Block sharply criticized Hynes's support of Vecchione: "Hynes praises Vecchione as one of his wonderful prosecutors. He's said he's done nothing wrong at all. . . . There are serious things that Vecchione did here."
"I'm disturbed by Hynes's behavior," he added. "This is horrific behavior on the part of Vecchione."
Block then questioned why Vecchione didn't testify in an earlier proceeding on his role in the case. The city attorney explained it was the D.A.'s decision. "All of this is going to be uncovered," Block replied. "I kid you not. . . . I'm just puzzled why the district attorney did not take any action against Vecchione," he said. "To the contrary. He seems to ignore everything that happened. And an innocent man has been in jail for 16 years."
In his complaint in the case, Rudin cited 56 cases of prosecutorial misconduct in Brooklyn stretching from the mid 1980s to last year. These cases demonstrate, he wrote, "Mr. Hynes's continuous, deliberate indifference to similar misconduct in other cases," and show "direct evidence of unlawful office-wide policy and practice."
Hynes has repeatedly promoted Vecchione over the years, including after the problems with the Collins prosecution came to light.…