Jesse Ward/for New York Daily News
The Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes
Former suspect Jabbar Collins is seeking $150 million for the 15 years he spent in prison
By John Marzulli / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Friday, November 16, 2012, 3:51 PM
A federal judge slammed Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes Friday for protecting a rogue prosecutor accused of railroading an innocent man on murder charges.
The freed man, Jabbar Collins, is seeking $150 million for the 15 years he spent in prison for murdering a rabbi. Hynes’ top aide Michael Vecchione - who prosecuted the case back in 1995 - is accused of threatening a witness and withholding evidence for more than a decade that could have exonerated the man.
Judge Frederic Block said he was “disturbed” and “puzzled” that Hynes did not punish Vecchione, but instead heaped praise on him despite the serious allegations.
“Hynes hasn’t treated it seriously, has he?” Block asked a city lawyer at pre-trial hearing. “What has he done? Name one thing he's done in light of Vecchione’s aberrational behavior.
“This was horrific behavior on the part of Vecchione,” Block said. “We are going to have a civil proceeding and all of this is going to be uncovered, I kid you not.”
The judge peppered city lawyer Arthur Larkin about Hynes’ public statements on the case.
A key witness who had incriminated Collins in the 1995 murder of Rabbi Abraham Pollack in Brooklyn testified at a hearing last year that Vecchione threatened to clobber him over the head with a coffee table and throw him in jail if he did not finger Collins for the killing.
Vecchione is the chief of the district attorney’s rackets bureau and is considered one of Hynes’ closest aides.
Collins’ conviction was tossed out last year by another federal judge in Brooklyn, Dora Irizarry, who termed the prosecutors’ conduct “shameful” and called the years of incarceration a “tragedy,” according to the suit.
Hynes decided not to retry him for the murder, but his office has not wavered in the belief that Collins killed the rabbi as he was collecting rent at a building he owned.
The suit notes that despite Irizarry’s harsh comments, Hynes publicly praised Vecchione in a press release as a “very principled lawyer” who had done nothing wrong and would not face disciplinary action.
Pressed about Hynes public statements of support for Vecchione, Larkin, the city lawyer, responded, “I can't speak to that.”
Collins’ lawyer Joel Rudin said he would discuss the possibility of a settlement with the city.
“I would very much like the facts to come out, but my client also wants to get on with his life,” Rudin said outside court.
Block criticized Hynes for exposing the city to significant liability by publicly defending Vecchione instead of disciplining him. He set a trial date of April 8 for a lawsuit.
A spokesman for Hynes declined to respond to the judge’s comments.
Hynes is facing a potentially tough re-election fight next year from at least two announced opponents, including former Brooklyn federal prosecutor Kenneth Thompson.
Posted by Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg at 11/17/2012
One More Nail In Hynes' Coffin - Time To Go Joe
Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg