Wrongful Convictions by the Federal Government
In part because the Federal Government does not prosecute often the violent personal crimes of murder and rape, the Federal justice system has not seen many instances of exonerations from Wrongful Convictions.
This page and parts of this website will present those cases, in addition to our primary focus on Alfred Trenkler.
Exoneration after prosecution by U.S. Attorneys in District of Columbia.
On 15 December 2009, Donald Eugene Gates was freed from the Tucson, AZ Federal prison after 28 years in prison for a rape and murder in Washington, D.C.
Because of the unique justice system in the District of Columbia, Gates was prosecuted by the Office of U.S. Attorney for the District.
Gates was released after DNA testing, and questions were raised about a government FBI expert witness whose work on other cases had been strongly criticized. Gates had written to his judge in 1988 and ASKED for DNA testing, but the science was then in its early stages. See "Links to Articles" for 15 December 2009.
Claims of Wrongful Convictions by U.S. Government.
Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald (from website Citizens United Against the Death Penalty, http://www.cuadp.org)
California Dr. MacDonald was convicted of murdering his family, despite being exonerated by the Army in 1970. In 1979, he was convicted of the crime, after his defense was unable to corroborate his version of events with forensic evidence. It was later discovered through investigation and Freedom of Information Act documents that the government suppressed evidence at trial that would have corroborated his story. At his 1997 appeal, an FBI expert lied under oath regarding the evidence uncovered. Revisions to Habeas Corpus laws have kept Dr. MacDonald from reopening his case until DNA tests were granted by an appeals court. The testing is still underway 4 years later.
Attorney: Harvey Silverglate, Silverglate & Good, Boston, MA
Posthumous Exoneration of man framed by FBI but prosecuted in Mass. State Court.
"Dead Inmate Exonerated In a Murder", New York Times, 5 November 2004
The article begins...
BOSTON, Nov. 4 - A man who died in prison after serving 30 years for a mob-related murder that the authorities now acknowledge he did not commit has been posthumously exonerated by prosecutors who say he was framed.
The man, Louis Greco, who died in prison in 1995, was set up by Joseph Barboza, a hit man who became a government witness, the Suffolk County district attorney's office said in a motion filed quietly in Suffolk Superior Court in September. Also in September, a judge ruled that a civil suit in the case could go forward. The dropping of charges was reported on Thursday by The Boston Herald.
The case was part of a series of embarrassing episodes involving the Boston office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, whose relationship with mob informers has been the subject of a Congressional inquiry.
''It appears that justice may not have been done,'' Mark Lee, an assistant district attorney, said in the motion exonerating Mr. Greco. The motion also cites ''legal and ethical considerations.''
Mr. Greco always maintained he was in Florida on March 12, 1965, when Edward Deegan was gunned down in an alley. Mr. Greco was 78 when he died in a prison hospital of colon cancer and heart disease.