Two brief notes today and then an amazing article, reprinted in full, by former Intell reporter Justin Quinn from April of 2005.
NOTHING TO CROW ABOUT!
Tomorrow, I will have a news round-up including yesterday’s astonishing, embarrassing and startling New Era front page story, “Rooster ruckus.”Editor Ernie Schreiber sinks to a new low.
LUNCH IS ON ME!
To a poster who questioned my Starling/Sally “conspiracy” theory - I am going to have much more on this later – but two quick points: One, to disprove my theory, all Starling has to do is have lunch with her biggest hero, Ron Harper.How hard is that?Why hasn’t “she” done it?Two, you posted a while back that “John J” had been extremely helpful in some type of alleged false abuse accusation brought against someone you know, and I know that “Sally” posted that “John J” had PM’d you private detectives names.I can’t find it quickly today and don’t have the time to do a full search (always, always put them in your “favorites!”) – but several weeks ago when I was looking at “men’s rights” websites, one of them had a list of specific private detectives for each and every state.And I bet if you did some research you would find the names of the ones “he” sent you on that list along with some other “advice” he may have provided. Have you been to websites like this –http://www.dadsrights.org/ ?
“I would hate to think that Starling's posting about the death of John J was all a ruse,” the poster said.It was/is all a ruse and yes, it is horrible.Again, there will be much more on the Starling/Sally/John J ruse and “men’s rights” later on this website.
Finally, please read the amazing story below and I give Justin Quinn tremendous kudos for writing this.How could this happen?Why haven’t heads rolled?For those of you who think you could never be wrongly arrested much less wrongly convicted of a crime, please, please read this.Astonishing.
Justice prevails for man falsely convicted Similar names, faces led accusers to wrong man Intelligencer Journal (Lancaster, PA)
But for a single letter in his first name, Wilfredo Rivera most assuredly would have gone to prison to serve a 1-year mandatory sentence for a crime he did not commit.
That's Wilfredo, with an "e."
Rivera, 52, of Dauphin Street, was exonerated Monday and his conviction vacated after the Lancaster County District Attorney's Office acknowledged Rivera was not the person who sold 8.7 grams of cocaine to a confidential informant for $340 the night of June 27, 2001.
"Simply put, we do not want the wrong person to go to jail," Assistant District Attorney Jeff Conrad said during a post-conviction relief hearing Monday.
"I don't think the prosecution could be characterized as 'wrongful,' however, because presented with the same information and the same facts that I had at the time, I would have to prosecute the case again the same way," Conrad said.
Defense attorney Barry Goldman said he believes the attorney general's office - which investigated the case - could have done more to help clear his client's name.
"For the record, I do not impugn our district attorney's office or Mr. Conrad," Goldman said. "The problem lies with the attorney general's office. The evidence that exonerated my client was available to them when they were investigating this case. My client never should have been charged."
Agents with the attorney general's Bureau of Narcotics Investigation and Control were targeting alleged drug dealer Alvin Torres, whose uncle, Wilfrido Rivera, aka "Willow," allegedly made the cocaine delivery the night of June 27, 2001.
That's Wilfrido, with an "i."
After conducting the undercover drug buy near an alley off West King Street, agents followed the man who delivered the drugs until they lost sight of his car on Lincoln Highway East. Surveillance agents provided narcotics Agent William O'Connell with the car's license plate number.
O'Connell contacted the state Department of Motor Vehicles and obtained the name of the vehicle's owner, Wilfrido Rivera.
O'Connell then contacted the state Department of Transportation and requested the driver's license photos of all men in Lancaster with the last name Rivera and whose first names began with the letters "W-i-l."
Photos of nine men whose names matched "Wilfredo" or "Wilfrido" were shown to O'Connell's wife, Agent Donna O'Connell, who had seen the suspect in the car.
Although Wilfrido Rivera's picture was among them, Donna O'Connell identified Wilfredo as the suspect she saw delivering the cocaine. The informant, who also saw the suspect in the car, gave only a tentative identification, according to court records, saying, "I think that's him, but I'm not sure."
In January 2002, Wilfredo's nightmare began.
After learning police wanted to talk to him and had a warrant out for his arrest, Wilfredo, who knows very little English, surrendered to try to clear up the misunderstanding. Instead, he was arrested and charged with one count of delivery of a controlled substance, which carries a 1-year mandatory jail sentence.
The case went to trial on March 3, 2003.
In court, Donna O'Connell and the informant both identified Wilfredo as the man who had delivered the cocaine.
Wilfredo's trial attorney, Hobie Crystle, called his client "an innocent man wrongly accused" and showed jurors a picture of the man who actually owned the car police followed.
"In fact, this is Wilfrido Rivera, who lives in Lancaster, who's about the same age (and) also (is) a Hispanic male with facial hair," Crystle said. "My client happens to share some characteristics with this individual to whom the car is registered."
Wilfredo testified he knew nothing about the drug buy, but the trial transcript does not mention an alibi.
On March 5, 2003, a jury found Wilfredo guilty; on March 8, 2003, Judge Michael J. Perezous sentenced him to to 2 years in jail.
Perezous did not send Wilfredo to jail right away, however. Instead, he released him on $5,000 unsecured bail while Wilfredo appealed his conviction.
In yet another blow to his defense, the state Superior Court upheld Wilfredo's conviction on July 19, 2004.
Wilfredo and his daughter, Mary Anna Rivera, hired Goldman, who discovered that state agents had made a mistake. Goldman's contacts with the local drug task force were familiar with "Willow" Rivera, not Wilfredo Rivera.
That started the ball rolling.
In his motion to vacate Wilfredo's conviction, Goldman said Willow has prior felony convictions consistent with Wilfredo's charge.
At Monday's postconviction hearing, Goldman said Alvin Torres positively identified Wilfrido as his uncle.
Both men are in prison on drug charges.
"The one good thing about this," Goldman said, "is that the defendant has not suffered any incarceration."
With the evidence before him, Perezous vacated Wilfredo's conviction and expunged his record of the charge.
"In the totality of the circumstances, I'm glad to say that the system does work," Conrad said. "Without the appeals process, we never would have discovered that the wrong man had been convicted."
After the hearing was over, Perezous smiled at Rivera. Rivera smiled back.
"Mr. Crystle believed you, and Mr. Goldman believed you," Perezous said. "Today, you have made a believer out of all of us. Best of luck to you."