Accuses Putnam office of misconduct and bias
A Lake Carmel man who served more than 20 years in prison for the killing of a 12-year-old girl before being granted a new trial is asking a judge to replace the Putnam County District Attorney’s Office with a special prosecutor.
Andrew Krivak was convicted, along with Anthony DiPippo, in 1997 for the rape and murder of Josette Wright three years earlier.
DiPippo, who was twice convicted of the crime, spent 20 years in prison before being released following his acquittal at a third trial in 2016. He sued Putnam County and settled for $12 million, all but $200,000 of which was paid by insurers.
A key difference between the prosecutions is that Krivak implicated himself in a statement that the defense contends was a false confession coerced by Sheriff’s Department investigators. He is being retried before Westchester County Judge Barry Warhit because the state judges based in Putnam recused themselves.
Krivak’s attorneys, Oscar Michelin and Karen Newirth, filed a motion in December to replace District Attorney Robert Tendy’s office as the prosecutor in the case. They allege his office withheld evidence and is pursuing Krivak despite the recantations of three eyewitnesses and the admission by a fourth, Denise Rose, that she lied about “significant details” during a deposition.
Tendy is also accused of failing to investigate a claim by an inmate, Joseph Santoro, that a convicted sex offender named Howard Gombert confessed to him that he killed Wright. (Gombert, who lived in Carmel and knew Wright, is serving a 30-year sentence for assaulting an 8-year-old girl.)
The evidence the defense says was not provided includes investigators’ notes in which Wright’s mother accused Gombert and also said that rings found in Krivak’s van were too big to be her daughter’s.
“This is not the behavior of an objective and disinterested prosecutorial office intent on seeking justice,” said Michelin and Newirth. “Rather, it is the behavior of one that is so biased against Mr. Krivak that it is willing to do anything at all to secure a conviction.”
Larry Glasser, the assistant district attorney who is prosecuting the retrial with Tendy, said in a response to the motion this month that it “contains outrageous and inflammatory accusations” and that many of the claims had been rejected during Krivak’s first trial.
Glasser described Santoro as “a career criminal who bragged that he has zero soul,” and who attempted to make deals with the DA’s office for a reduced sentence and with Krivak’s lawyers for cash.
In September, Santoro pleaded guilty in federal court to threatening to recant his testimony about Gombert if he did not receive a share of DiPippo’s settlement. He insists, according to The Journal News, that his claim about Gombert is true.
Glasser also said that Rose “consistently described” watching Krivak and DiPippo rape and kill Wright inside a van and that one of Wright’s friends testified at trial that a ring found in the van was a gift from her.
Each of Krivak’s allegations was either raised at trial or had not previously been alleged, said Glasser. “The complete history of this proceeding makes clear that we have fully upheld our ethical obligations as prosecutors and public servants,” he said.