Skip to main content

Back in 1990, David Ranta was convicted of the murder of one of Brooklyn's leading Hasidic rabbis.  However, 23 years later, after overwhelming evidence surfaced that he was not only innocent, but had been framed by an NYPD detective, Ranta was exonerated and released.  Late yesterday, facing a civil-rights suit that it almost certainly would have lost, New York City agreed to pay Ranta $6.4 million in compensation.  Even more tellingly, this was a move made by the city comptroller, with no input from the city legal department.

The comptroller’s quick acceptance of liability in the high-profile conviction is also significant because the case is the first of what is expected to be a series of wrongful conviction claims by men who were sent to prison based on the flawed investigative work of the detective, Louis Scarcella, who has been accused of inventing confessions, coercing witnesses and recycling informers.

“While no amount of money could ever compensate David for the 23 years that were taken away from him, this settlement allows him the stability to continue to put his life back together,” Mr. Ranta’s lawyer, Pierre Sussman, said. “We are now focusing our efforts on pursuing an unjust conviction claim with the State of New York.”

Mr. Sussman added that Mr. Ranta, who, at 58, had a heart attack the day after he was released last March, “would like everyone to know he is happy to have a chance at recovering his health, taking care of his heart and being there for his family and children.”

Ranta had announced in May 2013--two months after his release and exoneration--that he intended to sue the city.  Negotiations proceeded at a snail's pace until newly elected comptroller Scott Stringer decided to use his authority under the city charter to settle the case, partly because the man who had initially sent Ranta to prison, Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes, had joined the motion to free Ranta.

Ranta had maintained for years that Scarcella had fabricated a confession he'd supposedly made at Central Booking.  Even though more doubts had surfaced over the years about his conviction, nothing came of them until 2011, when one of the witnesses who identified Ranta, Menachem Lieberman, dropped a bombshell--he'd been told to pick Ranta out of a police lineup.  When Hynes got wind of this, he launched an investigation that uncovered several ghastly irregularities that made it impossible for them to stand by the conviction.  After Hynes discovered several other irregularities in Scarcella's case file, he launched a review of some 50 of Scarcella's cases.

While it's not known yet whether there are any irregularities as egregious as what happened with Ranta, the fact that Stringer decided to settle this without going to trial doesn't bode well for either the NYPD or Scarcella.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site