(CN) – New York City agreed to pay $9.9 million to a man who served 19 years in prison before key evidence surfaced that he had been framed by a corrupt detective who took part in mob-related killings.
A judge overturned Barry Gibbs’ conviction in 2005, citing evidence that his case had been manipulated by Louis J. Eppolito, a city police detective serving life in prison for taking mob money in exchange for information about investigations and for participating in killings for the mob.
Gibbs, 62, sued the city the following year, and the city agreed to pay him $9.9 million to settle the claims – the largest personal settlement in city history.
Gibbs had been convicted of killing a 27-year-old prostitute in 1986.
A key witness later told investigators that Eppolito, who led the investigation, had forced him to falsely identify Gibbs.
In his lawsuit, Gibbs said Eppolito “deliberately fabricated witness statements and police reports, withheld material, exculpatory evidence from prosecutors and intentionally failed to conduct an adequate investigation.”
Gibbs’ lawyers said they believed Eppolito pinned the blame on Gibbs to shield the real killer, who may have had Mafia ties.
“It’s a horrible injustice,” Barry C. Scheck, one of Gibbs’s lawyers, told The New York Times. “He was framed by one of the worst cops that ever served in the New York City police force, a man who disgraced the badge.”