Archive for the ‘Louis Scarcella’ Category

Quick random notes: September 2, 2017.

Saturday, September 2nd, 2017

Obit watch: Shelley Berman, noted stand-up comic.

Performing in upscale nightclubs and on concert stages, including Carnegie Hall at the height of his fame, he found humor in places where his borscht belt predecessors had never thought to look: ‘‘If you’ve never met a student from the University of Chicago, I’ll describe him to you. If you give him a glass of water, he says: ‘This is a glass of water. But is it a glass of water? And if it is a glass of water, why is it a glass of water?’ And eventually he dies of thirst.”
“Sometimes,” Mr. Berman told The New York Times in 1970, “I’m so oblique, even I don’t know what I’m talking about.”

(I’m going to have to start using “Were you very fond of that cat?” in conversation.)

Guess who’s coming to dinner?

Before you answer that: the dinner is actually a testimonial being put on by an association of retired NYPD detectives. There will be two honorees:
John Russo, “who investigated the murder of Karina Vetrano, who was killed while jogging in Howard Beach, Queens, last year.”

And the other one? Retired detective Louis Scarcella.

Mr. Hynes eventually helped to overturn the guilty verdict of David Ranta, partly blaming Mr. Scarcella for botching the murder case. When Mr. Thompson became the district attorney in 2014, he began a broad investigation — still ongoing — of what was ultimately more than 70 of Mr. Scarcella’s old cases. So far, prosecutors have reversed the convictions in eight of those cases, and judges have overturned another few, but the district attorney’s office has repeatedly maintained that Mr. Scarcella has not committed any punishable conduct or broken the law.

The event’s sponsor is aware that Mr. Scarcella is a polarizing figure. John Wilde, the retired detective who organized the evening, claimed he chose to honor the detective not in spite of the controversy, but because of it.
Mr. Scarcella did not prosecute the defendants who ended up in prison; he investigated and arrested them, Mr. Wilde said. Many people had a hand in the convictions that went wrong, but at least so far, Mr. Wilde added, only Mr. Scarcella has gotten any blame for the cases, and the ordeal has taken a toll.

Just as a reminder:

Detective Scarcella and his partner, Stephen Chmil, according to investigators and legal documents, broke rule after rule. They kept few written records, coached a witness and took Mr. Ranta’s confession under what a judge described as highly dubious circumstances. They allowed two dangerous criminals, an investigator said, to leave jail, smoke crack cocaine and visit with prostitutes in exchange for incriminating Mr. Ranta.


Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

The conviction of John Dwayne Bunn for the killing of Rolando Neischer, an off-duty corrections officer, has been overturned.

In 1991, Mr. Bunn, then 14, was arrested on charges of killing Rolando Neischer in the Kingsborough housing project in the Crown Heights neighborhood. According to trial testimony, two men on bicycles had approached a parked car in which Mr. Neischer was sitting with another officer, Robert E. Crosson, and ordered them to get out. A gun battle followed and Mr. Neischer was fatally wounded. Mr. Crosson, who was shot and wounded in the fight, survived and eventually identified Mr. Bunn and a second man, Rosean S. Hargrave, as the gunmen. Both men were later convicted of Mr. Neischer’s murder.

Why was the conviction overturned?

…the judge wrote that his “malfeasance in fabricating false identification evidence gravely undermines the evidence that convicted the defendants in this case.”

And who is the judge referring to here? Our old friend Louis Scarcella.

Notes from the legal beat: May 7, 2014.

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

Hand to God, I thought this was a joke at first: Bernie Tiede, who killed his “long-time companion” Marjorie Nugent and inspired Richard Linklater’s movie “Bernie”, has been freed from prison.

Special Judge Diane DeVasto agreed to let Tiede live with filmmaker Richard Linklater, who co-wrote and directed the movie and volunteered to take Tiede into his Austin home. Tiede will be under strict bond conditions.

In other news:

The decades-old murder convictions of three half brothers whose arrests were facilitated by a now discredited homicide detective were vacated in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn on Tuesday, as prosecutors acknowledged that the men had been deprived of fair trials because of a questionable witness.

And who was the “now discredited homicide detective”? Louis Scarcella. (I’m starting to think I need a “Scarcella” sub-category. And maybe an NYPD one as well.)

NYPD Blues.

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014
  1. James E. Griffin, a former NYPD detective, settled his lawsuit against the department for $280,000. In 2005, Mr. Griffin reported what he believed was misconduct by a fellow detective to Internal Affairs: “…he had found the word “rat” scrawled on his locker and that other detectives in the 83rd Precinct’s detective squad in Bushwick refused to work with him. Although he switched units a couple of times, the reputation followed him; he was ostracized in each new unit, he claimed.
  2. Jonathan Fleming was released from prison yesterday. In 1989, he was sentenced to 25 years to life on a murder charge. It turns out that the Brooklyn DAs office failed to turn over evidence to the defense, including a receipt that proved Mr. Fleming was actually in Florida shortly before the murder.
  3. Speaking of the Brooklyn DA’s office, “A review of homicide convictions stemming from the work of Louis Scarcella, a Brooklyn detective accused of framing suspects, has turned up a stash of old handwritten police notes that could exonerate two men convicted of a murder in 1985. One of the men served 21 years in prison; the other died behind bars.
    More: “…two previously undisclosed eyewitnesses saw the September 1985 killing of a man named Ronnie Durant, but they named killers different from the two men who were convicted. The notebook could have affected the verdict; not turning it over to defense lawyers decades ago is a serious violation of the rules of criminal procedure, experts said.

Edited to add: In the interest of fairness: NYPD Officer Dennis Guerra died this morning as a result of injuries he sustained during a fire on Sunday.

Officer Guerra, 38, and his partner, Officer Rosa Rodriguez, 36, had been on regular patrol in the public housing developments of Coney Island on Sunday when they responded to a 911 call of a fire in an apartment tower at 2007 Surf Avenue around 12:30 p.m.
They took an elevator straight to the floor and, when the doors opened, were immediately overwhelmed by noxious smoke. The officers collapsed unconscious in the hallway by the elevator where they were found by arriving firefighters.

Random notes: October 3, 2013.

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

Tom Clancy obit roundup: LAT. Appreciation from LAT. NYT. Baltimore Sun. A/V Club. WP.

In other news, the Dread Pirate Roberts graduated from Westlake. I’d also like to direct folks to Popehat, where former federal prosecutor Ken White has posted an analysis of the charges.

And it seems that the Brooklyn DA’s office has found at least one witness who says “the police coached him into giving false testimony”.

The witness, Sharron Ivory, gave crucial evidence in one of roughly 40 trial convictions handled by the detective, Louis Scarcella, that are now being reviewed by the Brooklyn district attorney’s office. The review was prompted by revelations that Mr. Scarcella sometimes engaged in questionable tactics, and may have helped frame an innocent man in another case.

Scarcella is not accused of being the person who got Mr. Ivory to lie:

Records show that it was not Mr. Scarcella who presented the photographs to Mr. Ivory. His role in the case involved obtaining the confession, which the defendant, Sundhe Moses, said he signed only because the detective had become physically abusive. When it came time to testify in court, Mr. Ivory ultimately did not identify Mr. Moses, but the jury, apparently persuaded by the confession, voted to convict.

“Likable scamps”

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

That’s how the prosecution described two NYPD detectives, Stephen Chmil and Louis Scarcella, at the trial of “a drug-addicted, unemployed printer” named David Ranta:

At trial, prosecutors acknowledged the detectives had misbehaved but depicted them as likable scamps.

Mr. Ranta was charged with shooting Chaskel Werzberger, a Hasidic rabbi, during a robbery that went bad. Mr. Ranta was convicted in 1991 and has spent the years since in prison.

Mr. Ranta could walk free as early as Thursday. In the decades since a jury convicted him of murder, nearly every piece of evidence in this case has fallen away. A key witness told The New York Times that a detective instructed him to select Mr. Ranta in the lineup. A convicted rapist told the district attorney that he falsely implicated Mr. Ranta in hopes of cutting a deal for himself. A woman has signed an affidavit saying she too lied about Mr. Ranta’s involvement.
Detective Scarcella and his partner, Stephen Chmil, according to investigators and legal documents, broke rule after rule. They kept few written records, coached a witness and took Mr. Ranta’s confession under what a judge described as highly dubious circumstances. They allowed two dangerous criminals, an investigator said, to leave jail, smoke crack cocaine and visit with prostitutes in exchange for incriminating Mr. Ranta.

Yeah. “Likable scamps” fabricated evidence and put an innocent man away for 22 years.