Prosecutors Accused of Major Screwup
BROOKLYN (CN) - A confidential informant recruited to set up a sting on an illegal gun ring claims in court that he was shot by one of the suspects after prosecutors ratted him out in a packed courtroom, then accused him of shooting himself and tried to prosecute him.
Pedro Castellano sued New York City and the Kings County District Attorney's Office on Aug. 6 in Kings County Supreme Court.
Castellano claims he agreed with the DA's office in January 2013 to set up the purchase of illegal guns as part of an investigation of a drug ring.
Officials promised him safety, he says, registering him as a confidential informant and giving him a number to be used to identify him throughout the investigation.
But in March 2013, an assistant DA mistakenly called the subject of the investigation when she meant to call Castellano, according to the lawsuit.
The suspect returned the phone call and learned that it was the DA's office.
Prosecutors tried to rectify their error by calling the suspect and pretending to have called the wrong number. But the suspect was on to them, Castellano says, and the gun sale was off.
He claims that the District Attorney's Office then became "overtly annoyed" with him over the failed deal.
On April 23, 2013, Castellano claims, Assistant DA Caryn Stepmer "intentionally, negligently, and/or recklessly proclaimed to the judge in a loud voice that plaintiff was a confidential informant who was assisting the KCDA [King County District Attorney's Office] with an investigation. Defendant ADA Stepmer identified plaintiff by name while making the proclamation to the judge."
Castellano claims that Stepmer said this so loudly that she could be heard all the way out into the hallway.
On May 8, 2013, Castellano says, he was approached by an unknown assailant, who called him a "rat" and shot him.
The DA's office then accused him of shooting himself, and made steps to charge him with obstruction of justice, Castellano says. He was arrested months later.
Charges were dismissed in June 2014.
"Plaintiff and his family are in danger and have been threatened with bodily injury," Castellano says in the complaint.
He seeks damages for civil rights violations, false arrest, malicious prosecution and negligence.
He is represented by Stuart E. Jacobs with Jacobs & Hazan.