Record $100 Million for Unjust Conviction
Posted Jul 26, 2007 2:06 PM CST
By Martha Neil
A federal judge in Boston has awarded $100 million to four men unjustly convicted of murder in Massachusetts state court in 1968, reportedly the largest such judgment ever made.
Ruling today, U.S. Dist. Judge Nancy Gertner found that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had suppressed evidence that four men convicted of the 1965 gangland murder of Edward "Teddy" Deegan were innocent, reports Reuters.
In fact, FBI informants were guilty of the crime, and authorities suppressed this evidence, contended a lawsuit brought by two survivors and family members of the two men who died in prison.
"An audible gasp was heard in the courtroom when Gertner announced how much the government would be forced to pay," reports the Associated Press, noting that the exact amount is $101.7 million.
While the judgment "corrected a wrong and made it right," Peter Limone, one of the two survivors, told Reuters, he and Joseph Salvati say they can never be fully compensated for having spent three decades in prison.
"They could never give me back what I lost. All the money in the world wouldn't give me 33 years," Limone said, according to NBC.
Added Salvati, "Do I want the money? Yes, I want my children, my grandchildren to have things I didn't have, but nothing can compensate for what they've done."
Louis Greco and Henry Tameleo died in prison. The other two men were freed in 2001, after FBI memos proving their innocence surfaced, NBC notes.
A spokesman for the U.S. Justice Department declined to comment on the judgment.
An earlier AP story, published today before the verdict, recapped the arguments made by both sides at trial:
Lawyers for the plaintiffs in the malicious prosecution case said the four men were "acceptable collateral damage" to the FBI, which put a high priority at the time on convicting Mafia members with the help of criminal informants.
However, counsel for the Justice Department contended that federal authorities did not have a duty to share information with state prosecutors, and argued that the federal government isn't responsible for what happens in a state prosecution.