Despite Guilty Plea, Romano & Kuan Obtains $2.75 Million from NYC for Innocent Man Who Spent 9 Yrs in Prison for Wrongful Attempted Murder Conviction
A Long Island man has won a $2.75 million settlement from the city because of a police coverup resulting in an attempted murder conviction — and nine years in prison for a crime he says he did not commit, his lawyer said Thursday.
Michael “Marcos” Poventud’s victory comes after a years-long fight for his right to sue. Poventud was found guilty of attempted murder in the 1997 Bronx shooting of a livery driver. Poventud’s conviction was thrown out in 2005, when he learned that cops hid evidence.
The hidden evidence came to light when his co-defendant, Robert Maldonado, won a new trial — and was acquitted. There were neither fingerprints nor DNA evidence in the case — just one witness’ testimony. This witness originally picked Poventud’s brother from a photo array.
Poventud’s sibling was locked up when the shooting happened. Police decided to pursue Poventund, however — and never told him the lone witness first implicated his brother.
“If Poventud’s lawyers had this material, this exculpatory evidence at his original trial, I’m confident he would have been acquitted,” said his lawyer, Julia Kuan.
Maldonado won a $2.5 million settlement from the city in 2012 regarding his wrongful conviction, said Kuan, who also represents him.
When Bronx prosecutors said they would pursue a retrial unless Poventud copped to a lesser charge, Poventud pleaded guilty to attempted robbery so he could leave jail immediately.
Poventud sued the city in 2007 — but a Manhattan federal court judge shot down the lawsuit in 2012.
The judge claimed Poventud couldn’t file suit because he had copped to the lesser charge. In January 2014, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against that decision — saying Poventud could sue despite his guilty plea, paving the way for Wednesday’s settlement.
“Nothing can give me back those years of my life that I lost, but I’m happy to put this behind me,” Poventud told The News. “I’m going to live my life and take care of my health.”
After Poventud’s release, he found out he had cancer.
Poventud is in remission, but says he is going to live “day by day” and spend as much time with his sons, who are 20 and 23 years old, as possible.
“There’s a gap — nine years I was away,” said Poventud, 45. “I’ve got a lot of making up to do.”
“This case raised a novel legal issue concerning the resolution of the plaintiff’s criminal charges and its effect on his civil claims,” a city Law Department spokesman said Thursday. “Settlement of this matter was fair and in the best interest of the city.”