Former Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes has admitted in a deposition that he did not believe that Jabbar Collins, a man his office wrongly convicted of a high profile 1994 murder of Satmar hasid Rabbi Abraham Pollack, was guilty. But despite that admission, Hynes did nothing to clear Collins name and his office continued to maintain Collins was guilty.
Former Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes
Former Brooklyn DA Admitted He Believed Man Convicted Of Murdering Hasidic Rabbi Was Innocent
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Former Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes has admitted in a deposition that he did not believe that Jabbar Collins, a man his office wrongly convicted of a high profile 1994 murder of Satmar hasid Rabbi Abraham Pollack, was guilty, the Daily News exclusively reported.
Collins was exonerated in 2010 after spending almost 16 years in prison.
But Hynes’ office fought against Collin’s exoneration despite Hynes belief Collins was innocent, and Assistant District Attorney Kevin Richardson insisted Collins was guilty at the court hearing that set Collins free.
“We believe in this defendant’s guilt,” Richardson told the court then.
“The statement that we believe ‘he did it’ was a reference to Kevin Richardson, who believed at the time ... that Mr. Collins was guilty. I didn’t have that view because there was no case anymore,” Hynes said under questioning by Collins’ lawyer, Joel Rudin, according to a transcript of the deposition, which was taken December 19, 2013, while Hynes was still in office. In that deposition Hynes added that while Richardson may have believed Collins was guilty of murdering Pollack in the 1994 Williamsburg robbery, “I no longer held that position.”
But Richardson was sent to federal court by Hynes’ office to defend the conviction of Collins. Richardson’s supervisor, Rackets Bureau Chief Michael Vecchione, originally tried the murder case against Collins and appears to have committed prosecutorial misconduct by coercing and threatening witnesses in the case.
Brooklyn Federal Judge Dora Irizarry called the Hynes’ office’s handling of the case against Collins “shameful.”
Hynes responded with a public statement defending Vecchione. He also insisted there would be no internal investigation of allegations of misconduct by Vecchione – a longtime right hand man and friend of Hynes.
Writing in The Jewish Week, Hella Winston reported in 2013 that after Collins was released in 2010, Hynes office assured Pollack’s family that the DA's office continued to believe Collins was guilty and also told the family that Collins was released only because of a “technical mistake” – even though there was a large amount of evidence showing that Collins was not the killer. Winston also reported that a relative of the murdered man had recently become plagued by questions about the handling of the case against Collins and doubted he was the real killer.
Hynes lost his reelection bid in November in a landslide.
Vechhione retired from the DA’s office two weeks before the new DA, Kenneth Thompson, took over.
Thompson fired Richardson soon after taking office in January.
In that December deposition Hynes also admitted that “someone involved in that case” failed to inform Collins’ attorney that a key witness against him had recanted.
“It was an absolute obligation on the part of a prosecutor with that kind of information to immediately turn it over to the defense attorney. There is absolutely, never has been, any doubt in my mind that it was a clear unethical ... act of misconduct,” Hynes said.
But Hynes has never publicly corrected Richardson’s claim to the court that Collins is guilty, and the city’s attorney charged with defending the city against Collins’ lawsuit has repeated Richardson’s false claim.
The Collins case is only one of dozens of questionable murder convictions from Hynes' 23 years in office, some of which have drawn sharp criticism from three federal judges.
A panel formed by Hynes in the waning months of his tenure as DA to investigate possible wrongful convictions was stacked with Hynes cronies and insiders.