We often discussed the lack of deterrent for prosecutorial misconduct in the United States. When cases are overturned due to destruction or withholding of evidence or other violations, few reporters track down the original prosecutors to hold them accountable. Prosecutors are rarely punished for such acts. The article below in the New York Times details a shocking example of alleged misconduct and the lack of action by the Queens District Attorney in dealing with what appears gross violations by prosecutors in the office.
The case from 2000 involves Petros Bedi who was convicted of killing a man at a nightclub and given a sentence of 42 1/2 years in prison. The key witness was Seraphim Koumpouras who looked like another purchased snitch. Prosecutors often hand out deals to inmates or arrested individuals to testify in cases. These witnesses will suddenly appear and say that the defendant spontaneously confessed to them in some prison yard to a killing.
In the case of Koumpouras, the defense attorney suspected that he was given money and other benefits after his arrest to shape his testimony. He was repeatedly asked in court whether his hotel bill was paid for by the prosecutor; whether he and his girlfriend have been living for months on the government’s tab; whether he received money from the prosecutors. With the prosecutors from the Queens District Attorney sitting there, he denied it all. He was reportedly lying but the prosecutors never told the jury or the judge.
It turns out that the district attorney’s office in paid Koumpouras, $16,640 for hotel bills and gave him about $3,000 in cash. Indeed, they paid him money just days before his testimony.
His defense counsel has produced a witness who says that another man committed the crime. He has also detailed some 70 other cases of prosecutorial misconduct in New York. In Queens, District Attorney Richard A. Brown, has disciplined just one lawyer for misconduct.
The office has only said that it will fight the lawsuit vigorously.
By the way, the final payment (or tip?) has handed over to Koumpouras on his way out of the courthouse. Prosecutors gave him $100 and sent him on his way.