Back in the violent 1980s and 1990s, a Brooklyn detective prided himself on playing by his own rules to get his man.
It turns out he may have screwed up a ton of cases in the process.
The Brooklyn, N.Y. District Attorney is reviewing 50 murder cases investigated by Detective Louis Scarcella after David Ranta was cleared of murder following a 23-year prison sentence, The New York Times reports.
Prosecutors found Scarcella screwed up the investigation that landed Ranta in prison for killing a Rabbi, even removing “violent criminals from jail to let them smoke crack cocaine and visit prostitutes in exchange for incriminating Mr. Ranta.”
Even more troubling allegations about Scarcella are emerging now, including an allegation of what The Times referred to as a “common eyewitness.” A crack-addicted prostitute named Teresa Gomez served as a witness in six different cases that Scarcella had investigated.
Lawyers called Gomez “Louie’s go-to” witness, according to The Times.
One murder defendant Robert Hill, who got convicted after Gomez testified against him, told the Times he thinks Scarcella railroaded him.
Scarcella, who is 61 and retired, has acknowledged playing by his own rules. He appeared on the self-help guru Dr. Phil’s TV show back in 2007 to discuss false confessions. Here’s what he said, according to the Times’s account:
“Are there rules when it comes to homicide? No. No, there are none. I lie to them. I will use deception. The bad guys don’t play by the rules when they kill Ma and Pop, shoot them in the head, ruin the lives of their family. I don’t play by the rules.”
He went on: “I would use a lie. I had a case, and I said: ‘I have your prints. You were there, and that’s it.’ He said: ‘No. No way. I wasn’t there.’ It’s like 4 in the morning. I take him into the bathroom, and he says to me, ‘Louis, you were right. I was there, but he kicked me, and I shot him by accident.’ I said, ‘Don’t you feel better now?’ And he’s now doing 37 ½ years to life.”
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