Wrongfully Convicted Tarrant County Woman Has No Faith in Justice System

COLLEYVILLE, Texas – As Karen Lucchesi looked through a box filled with photos of a difficult time in her life, it became clear that pictures aren’t necessary to jog her memory.

The simple bunk beds and stark white sheets she lived in for more than five years are things she will never forget. “I remember the cold metal,” Lucchesi said, “And knowing that when that door locked and closed you could almost feel that the world as I knew it didn’t exist right now.”

In 2003, Lucchesi owned a successful chain of spas and wellness centers in Tarrant County, Burleson, and beyond.

The attorney she trusted to advise her on business transactions had access to her office, her records, and – without her knowledge – he gained access to her checking account.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency set up a sting and caught that attorney depositing laundered money in Lucchesi’s account. He took a plea deal and agreed to testify against her.

“The statement has always been we’re innocent until proven guilty in America, that we are Americans and that is the way the system is,” Lucchesi said. “But, it’s not. You are guilty until proven innocent, if you are even given a chance to prove that innocence.”

Lucchesi said several key pieces of evidence that could have swayed the jury in her case were not allowed to be entered. “They had me take a polygraph, I passed it. They created the questions, passed another one. Took one more and passed it. The jury didn’t see that,” she said.

“There were videotapes that exonerated me – undercover tapes – those were never allowed because the judge wouldn’t let us take a break to find a machine to play them back.”

“Paperwork that showed I reported fraud on my checking account before the case ever started – that wasn’t allowed,” she said.

After a three-hour trial, Lucchesi spent five years in prison. Multiple appeals followed. Lucchesi finally won at the highest court in the land. “I prevailed on a vacated sentence in the U.S. Supreme Court,” she said. “They ruled that my constitutional rights were violated.”

While she was in prison, former DEA Special Agent in Charge of the Dallas office Phil Jordan reviewed her case. He found no evidence of money laundering. “In simple words, I can just say that this is a clear case of entrapment,” Jordan said. “An innocent woman went to prison wrongfully.”

Lucchesi sued the attorney who testified against her. They settled the case and, in court documents, he admitted Lucchesi was innocent.

Lucchesi hopes her newly published book, “Innocent Woman,” provides proof that, while the justice system is often right, sometimes it is painfully wrong.

“I think there are some good men and women in the justice system, but I don’t believe in the justice system the way it works right now – I don’t,” she said.

Karen Lucchesi is the daughter of Frank Lucchesi, who managed the Texas Rangers during the 1970s. He is now 92. According to his daughter, his health quickly declined while she was in prison. Watching that, she said, was the most difficult part of her journey.

“We see what’s going on with the government right now up high, but it’s affecting us down here, too – everyday citizens. It can happen to anyone,” she said.

Source: https://www.wfaa.com/article/news/wrongfully-convicted-tarrant-county-woman-has-no-faith-in-justice-system/287-570446191