A man wrongfully convicted of killing a Brooklyn rabbi settled a federal civil-rights lawsuit against New York City for $10 million on Tuesday.
spent 16 years in prison for the February 1994 killing of Rabbi
He was released in June 2010 after witnesses recanted their testimony.
Mr. Collins sued former Brooklyn District Attorney
former members of the district attorney’s office and New York Police Department detectives for civil-rights violations stemming from the wrongful conviction in New York’s Eastern District federal court.
A trial was scheduled for October, but settlement negotiations began in late July and an offer was accepted Monday, said Mr. Collins’s lawyer, Joel Rudin.
In July, Mr. Collins and the New York state attorney general’s office came to a separate settlement for $3 million.
Now 42 years old, Mr. Collins said Tuesday that the cumulative $13 million in settlements were “bittersweet.”
Photos: The Jailhouse Lawyer Who Sprang Himself From Prison
“It’s been so hard to realize that the fight is really over,” he said in an interview. “I’ve been at this for the past 20 years, since I was 21 years old, and reality hasn’t set in yet. If there was one word to describe it: surreal.”
The settlement is on par with other wrongful conviction cases New York City officials have recently settled.
The New York City Law Department said on Tuesday that the settlement was fair.
Mr. Collins was convicted in March 1995 after two witnesses testified that they saw him flee the shooting of Rabbi Pollack during a robbery in Williamsburg. A third witness testified that Mr. Collins had confided his plans to rob the rabbi on the day he collected rent.
While in prison, Mr. Collins taught himself records law and found documents that weren’t turned over to his lawyer. He also contacted witnesses and found they received favorable treatment on their coming criminal cases in exchange for their testimony against him. That information wasn’t made known to his attorney at the time of his trial.
Mr. Hynes, 78, who lost his re-election bid last fall after 24 years in office, said in a December deposition that the case against Mr. Collins had “fallen apart” in 2010 when he learned for the first time that a key witness recanted testimony against Mr. Collins and that Mr. Collins’s attorney wasn’t told.
“Upon being informed by my staff that the three witnesses who testified at the trial to the guilt of Mr. Collins were no longer credible witnesses, I directed that the court be informed that the office would not retry Mr. Collins,” Mr. Hynes said in a statement on Tuesday.
Mr. Hynes, who is separately under criminal investigation for fraud, did not comment specifically on the settlement terms or Mr. Collins’s misconduct claims. But in his deposition, Mr. Hynes said there was “a failure of ethical responsibility by someone involved in the case.”
Mr. Collins, who has worked as a legal research assistant and paralegal in his attorney’s office since 2010, said he plans to take a leave of absence from work and take a vacation with his three children, who range in age from 22 to 26. He has never left the United States and plans to travel “somewhere tropical.”
Mr. Collins said he also plans to invest the settlement money conservatively so it can sustain “generations to come” and that he plans become involved in the ministry and with philanthropic efforts for those who are wrongfully convicted.
Copyright ©2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8