Paying Jabbar Collins $10 million doesn’t address problems with prosecutors

A wrongly convicted Brooklyn man will receive millions in compensation from New York City, but that doesn’t address the broader lack of consequences when prosecutors abuse their power.


The dollar figure was so large and the public statements of vindication and concession so harmonious, one might have been tempted to think the system had actually worked.

A wrongly convicted Brooklyn man had won his freedom when a federal judge called out a local prosecutor for misconduct. And then, this week, with the help of an able lawyer, the freed man won a $10 million settlement from New York City, gaining possible financial security for life.

But ProPublica's reporting over the last two years suggests that any such temptation to think the system worked in the case of Jabbar Collins should be resisted.

The system for identifying and punishing misconduct by prosecutors is badly broken, our reporting shows, and with the Collins case settling, a crucial channel for exposing systemic problems and ensuring they don't recur may close as well.

So many shortcomings spotlighted by the Collins case remain unresolved.

Michael Vecchione, the prosecutor who gained a murder conviction against Collins in the 1990s and who was later accused of having committed an array of misconduct in the case, has to date faced no sanction.

And history suggests he won't. He even managed to cash out a couple hundred days of vacation as he quietly left the Brooklyn district attorney's office last year.

The taxpayers who paid for those vacation days are now on the hook for $10 million more, footing the bill for Collins' wrongful conviction.

The lack of consequences for Vecchione -- who was accused by Collins and his lawyer of intimidating witnesses, suborning perjury and lying about it all for years while Collins sat in prison -- get at larger problems with the system of prosecutorial oversight.

Two federal judges ultimately came to damning conclusions about Vecchione's conduct.


They upbraided him in open court. But there's no evidence they reported him to the state disciplinary committees appointed to investigate complaints of attorney misconduct.

The fact that it is not clear whether any state panel charged with policing attorneys has or will take up Vecchione's history underscores what many have complained about for years: The state's disciplinary system operates almost entirely in secret. Its rare disciplining of prosecutors, then, often remains unknown to the public, including the men and women later facing those prosecutors in court.

The system offers the innocent and the damaged only one meaningful recourse for exposing prosecutorial misconduct: a civil lawsuit. But such suits require years of expensive effort, and, of course, are only even theoretically available to those who have managed to win their freedom.

The Collins case, in this respect, highlights yet one more disturbing component of the way cases of misconduct are handled.

In a statement announcing the $10 million settlement, lawyers for New York City called it only fair. The Brooklyn district attorney's office, the city's lawyers pointed out, had admitted as far back as 2010 that Collins' constitutional rights to a fair trial had been violated.

One might ask, then, why the city fought so vigorously over the subsequent years, deriding Collins' lawyer for trying the case in the press, suggesting Collins could still be guilty and denying Vecchione had done anything improper.

The city, of course, has many interests in defending itself in such lawsuits. Still, it effectively acknowledged this week that it had spent years of effort and untold taxpayer dollars on a case in which it conceded Collins had an undisputed legal claim.

All of this, ProPublica's reporting has shown, is hardly isolated. Our reporting found examples like Collins in other boroughs in the city. And a growing body of reporting by other news organizations has demonstrated that it goes on in all corners of the country.

This is, one might say, how the system works. Or doesn't. The Collins settlement ratifies nothing but how broken it remains.



Dena Bank, OBC shares fall over Rs436 crore fraud

Dena Bank officials allowed Rs256.69 crore transfer through overdraft facility, while OBC transferred Rs180 crore received from JNPT as bulk deposit to one Padmavati International


Shares of Dena Bank and Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC) fall on Wednesday following a news report about Rs436.7 crore fraud in their branches. Dena Bank has suspended its 'erring' branch manager and transferred some staff members. OBC, on the other hand said it has initiated departmental action against erring officials.


Dena Bank closed Wednesday 5% down at Rs60.1, while OBC ended the day 6.5% down at Rs264.5 on the BSE. The 30-share Sensex closed the day marginally down at 26,314.


In a regulatory filing, Dena Bank said, "Malabar Hill Branch of the Bank received bulk term deposits from various entities and government organizations between 30 January 2014 and 5 May 2014. Subsequently, term deposits amounting to Rs256.69 crore were pledged to the Bank by the same signatories to obtain overdraft facilities of Rs223.25 crore. The funds were surreptitiously transferred out of the Bank by creating fake overdraft facility, resulting in a fraud on the Bank and the concerned entities, Government organizations."


OBC, in its regulatory filing said, "Surreptitious transfer of funds from our Malwani, Mumbai Branch: Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) had placed funds aggregating Rs180 crore with the Bank initially for the purpose of term deposit in two tranches in February 2014. These funds were surreptitiously transferred out of the Bank to Padmavati International upon instructions of the same signatory/constituent. Padmavati International remitted the amount to seven banks and 12 clients. Later, when JNPT complained about non-receipt of term deposit receipt, the Bank replied that the funds have been transferred on their instructions only."


"JNPT has filed a case with Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the matter is under investigation. Out of the above, Rs110.12 crore lying with other banks has been seized under instructions of CBI, Rs64.31 crore is untraced as on date and the balance Rs5.57 crore, which was lying with us has been remitted back to JNPT," OBC said in the filing.


The Finance ministry has taken note of these instances and has ordered a forensic audit of the two public sector banks, say reports.




3 years ago

I think this type of fraud is not new in Dena bank. A branch manager from Kerala(QUILON/KOLLAM) was arrested some months ago by the CBI

Veeresh Malik

3 years ago

Banks urgently need to put out a simple Fixed Deposit product which says clearly across, like a "NOT NEGOTIABLE crossing, that "THIS INSTRUMENT IS NOT AVAILABLE FOR FACILITIES OF ANY SORT" and specifies also that in case of any activity on the FD, the proceeds should go back only to such-and-such account.

Sensex, Nifty to give up some gains – Wednesday closing report

Nifty will be headed lower, if its closes below 7,850


We have been mentioning for the past two days that the indices would pause and move sideways.  This is exactly what happened. Although the Indian market made the highest ever opening Wednesday it soon lost steam and plunged in the negative. It continued to trade there with unsuccessful attempts to turn positive. Today, for the first time after six days of consecutive positive trading, the market closed in the negative.

S&P BSE Sensex opened at 26,496 and immediately hit its intra-day high at 26,505 while NSE's CNX Nifty opened at 7,916 and hit its high at 7,923. Both Sensex and Nifty moved lower to hit the day’s low at 26,278 and 7,864, respectively. Sensex closed at 26,314 (down 106 points or 0.40%) while Nifty closed at 7,875 (down 22 points or 0.28%). NSE recorded a volume of 82.51 crore shares. India VIX fell 1.76% to close at 13.6600.

According to the recent report from ratings agency ICRA, Indian pharma companies would continue to experience strong growth in the US over the medium-term. This growth will be driven by the sizeable generic opportunity over the next 2-3 years and strong product pipeline of pending ANDAs. The report also mentions that acquisitions by Indian companies to gain technological capabilities and focus on strengthening branded business are also likely to drive growth going forward. Sun Pharma, Ranbaxy, Cipla and Aurobindo Pharma, which made to the top six gainers in the ‘A’ group on the BSE hit their 52-week high today. Sun Pharma, Cipla and Dr Reddy were among the top three gainers in Sensex 30 pack.

Dena Bank, which was named in a fixed deposit scam clarified that it has lodged a complaint in this regard with CBI. It has also suspended the erring branch manager and transferred the staff of the concerned branch. It was the top loser (5.06%) in the ‘A’ group on the BSE.

Bhushan Steel (-4.97%) which has continued hitting its new 52-week low today, also has been looking at options to reduce debt. The lenders, which met on Monday has asked the steelmaker to sell and lease back some of its critical assets to reduce debt, as the borrower is finding it difficult to raise equity from the market. It was among the top two losers in ‘A’ group on the BSE.

The oil ministry has told the Delhi high court that allegations levelled against it by Oil and Natural Gas Company (ONGC), were "frivolous" and the government had taken all necessary steps to resolve its complaint charging Reliance Industries with siphoning gas from its blocks in the Andhra offshore field. ONGC was the top loser (2.62%) in Sensex 30 stock.

US indices closed Tuesday in the positive.

Housing starts posted their strongest rebound in eight months in July, topping expectations and adding another data point to suggest optimism is returning among homebuilders.

The minutes from the last Federal Open Market Committee meeting will be released later in the day.

Except for Shanghai Composite (0.23%) all the other Asian indices closed in the positive. NZSE 50 (0.51%) was the top gainer.

European indices were trading in the negative while US Futures were trading flat.
The Bank of England in its minutes from August policy meeting published in London said the policy makers were split on rate increase.


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