Prosecutions Under Review For Detective Involved In Wrongful Conviction Of David Ranta
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Two months after a high-profile 1990 murder case he investigated was thrown out, dozens more convictions associated with a retired New York City police detective are under review, prosecutors said Saturday.
As WCBS 880’s Ginny Kosola reported, Detective Louis Scarcella was credited with solving sensational cases.
But now about 50 of his convictions are under review. The now retired Scarcella told the New York Times that he doesn’t expect prosecutors to find anything.
Scarcella was the lead detective on the murder of Brooklyn Rabbi Chaskel Werzberger.
The second-degree murder conviction of David Ranta was vacated after Ranta spent two decades in prison.
Prosecutors from the Conviction Integrity Unit found insufficient evidence.
Scarcella has been credited with solving sensational cases that gave the city a scary reputation – and helping elevate the reputation of the city’s detectives. He credited his ability to connect with suspects for his success gaining confessions in high-profile crimes.
In an interview with The Associated Press, he said he fed meals to suspects, allowed them to see their girlfriends and even got down on his knees to pray with a man he was interrogating.
Scarcella declined to comment when CBS 2 approached him at his Staten Island home Sunday.
“I can’t speak to you. I’m sorry,” he said. “Have a good Mother’s Day.”
The case against Ranta began to unravel in 2011 when prosecutors from the Conviction Integrity Unit began their review.
That’s the year a man named Menachem Lieberman approached Ranta’s trial lawyer to tell him he “had uncertainty and discomfort” with his identification of Ranta, and later gave the unit a sworn statement recounting how a detective had told him to “pick the one with the big nose” – Ranta – out of a police lineup.
Other interviews done by the unit suggested an alleged accomplice-turned-prosecution witness – now dead – had pinned the shooting on Ranta to save himself. A woman also repeated claims that her deceased husband privately confessed he was the killer.
The unit also found gaps in police paperwork intended to document their investigation. And Ranta denied he knowingly signed police file folders with statements saying he’d helped plan the robbery.
Scarcella has worked many high profile cases that led to convictions, including two teens accused of killing of a transit worker by torching a subway token booth.
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