Dirty Detective Louis Scarcella Insists, ‘I’ve Done Nothing Wrong,’ Despite Sending 13 Wrongfully Convicted People to Jail

He handled nearly a dozen homicide cases that resulted in 13 people being wrongfully convicted and spending a combined 245 years in prison.

The city and state have so far coughed up a total of $53.3 million in legal settlements to eight of those people over the shady investigations involving tainted evidence, misleading testimony or forced confessions — with more lawsuits pending.

But retired Detective Louis Scarcella, 66, will never lose a day of his freedom or pay a cent toward those settlements because the law is on his side.

The scandal-scarred cop — whose police work from the 1980s and 1990s has been the subject of an ongoing review — told the Daily News on Friday that he is living out his golden years with a clean conscience and no worries.

“I’ve done absolutely nothing wrong. I stand by my cases a hundred percent,” Scarcella, who retired in 1999, said outside his semidetached Staten Island home.

He spoke a few days after another case fell apart, when the Brooklyn district attorney’s office announced it would not retry Rosean Hargrave and John Bunn after Judge ShawnDya Simpson vacated their murder convictions.

Bunn, 41, and Hargrave, 44, were only 14 and 17, respectively, when a Brooklyn jury convicted them in the August 1991 killing of a correction officer.

Simpson threw out the conviction in 2015 based on tainted evidence collected by Scarcella.

“The revelation of Detective Scarcella’s malfeasance in fabricating false-identification evidence gravely undermines the evidence that convicted the defendants in this case,” Simpson wrote in her decision.

Last month, an appellate court upheld her ruling, leading to the DA’s decision last week.

Bunn spent 16 years in prison while Hargrave did 24.

It was Scarcella’s 11th case in which convictions were vacated.

A total of 13 people in those cases have had their convictions overturned in the past five years. Together they spent a combined 21/2 centuries in prison.

The Brooklyn district attorney’s office is in the midst of reviewing more than 70 of Scarcella’s cases from his time as a swaggering, cigar-chomping detective in the 1980s and 1990s.

The office has so far looked at about 40 of the cases and upheld 34 of them. It has vacated eight convictions — but it has never said that Scarcella broke any laws.

Even if Scarcella had committed a crime in his handling of those cases, he wouldn’t face any charges because the investigations took place decades ago — so the statute of limitations is long past for charging someone.

“People look at Scarcella and say, ‘Why can’t we do something about it?'” said Abe George, a civil rights lawyer and former Brooklyn prosecutor.

“If we found out at or around the time that misconduct occurred, then we could do something about it.”

Scarcella also doesn’t have to worry about losing his pension, as state law bars him from being stripped of it.

Shabaka Shakur, who languished in prison for 28 years before a judge vacated his double-murder conviction in 2015, said he is disgusted Scarcella faces no consequences for his dirty police work.

“He’s still sitting back and collecting a pension,” Shakur said. “He’s still getting paid, even though he cost the state millions and millions of dollars.”

A jury found Shakur guilty in 1989 after Scarcella testified that Shakur confessed to him about killing two men following an argument about car payments.

Shakur didn’t waver in saying he was innocent and said he never made any confession. A judge threw out Shakur’s conviction in 2015, writing in his decision that there was “reasonable probability” that the confession “was indeed fabricated.”

“It’s a tragedy that so many people basically lost their lives to the system,” Shakur said. “It’s not just that we served. It’s the years that our families had to deal with this.”

The city and state paid a combined $8.3 million to Shakur, 53, to settle his wrongful conviction lawsuits.

“That money can’t compensate you for the time that you lost,” he said.

He and his wife never had the chance to have children together.

“Even that is a result of incarceration because it created havoc on my marriage, on my relationship,” he said.

Meanwhile, Scarcella enjoyed all the luxuries of a lifetime of freedom, Shakur said.

The retired detective collects an NYPD pension, enjoys swims in the ocean as a member of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club and is the proud father of a daughter who serves as a prosecutor. The deck on the side of Scarcella’s home was littered with his grandchildren’s toys on Friday.

“I have a great life,” Scarcella said.

“My dad was a homicide detective. My brother was on the job for 26 years. My daughter’s a district attorney. This job was my life.”

Scarcella also has the backing of his fellow officers.

“Detective Louis Scarcella is a political scapegoat. Innocence or guilt has little to do with what’s happening here,” said Michael Palladino, the president of the Detectives’ Endowment Association. “It’s the same premise with the statues of Columbus: People with an agenda, an ax to grind and a desire to rewrite history.”

Criminal defense lawyer Ron Kuby said that despite the mounting overturned convictions, Scarcella’s peers in the NYPD still have a warped admiration for his work.

“The problem is that when New York City police officers and New York City detectives look back on this era, they view it as the greatest era of their lives. This is the era where they won the war on crime,” he said.

Kuby has been involved in several of Scarcella’s wrongful-conviction cases, including that of Jabbar Washington, whose murder conviction was overturned by the Brooklyn DA last year.

In announcing Washington’s vacated conviction, prosecutors said Scarcella offered misleading testimony to the jury, but they laid the blame on a former assistant district attorney who withheld evidence from the defense.

Kuby agreed that Scarcella had his “enablers.”

“The focus is rightly on the detective who actually did these things,” Kuby said. “But he had plenty of help from prosecutors and judges.

Scarcella said the people in all of the overturned convictions were guilty. He also questioned the Brooklyn DA’s review of his cases, saying the office has never interviewed him or former prosecutors with whom he worked cases.

He said he, too, is against junk justice.

“Anyone who would put an innocent man in jail — especially on homicide — deserves the death sentence as far as I’m concerned,” he said.

“I had a stellar career. In the future the truth is going to come out about every one of the cases.”

Source: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/law-punish-detective-louis-scarcella-dirty-tactics-article-1.4000501

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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5618 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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