A man who pleaded guilty to a lesser crime after serving 9 years in prison on an overturned attempted murder conviction has won $2.75 million in a wrongful conviction suit settlement.
The Times reports that the city reached the settlement with Michael Poventud, 45, yesterday. Poventud was convicted of attempted murder and attempted robbery in 1998 and spent nine years in prison, but the conviction was vacated in 2005 after it was revealed that cops covered up evidence that his brother, who was in jail at the time, had been identified as a suspect first.
Poventud then pleaded guilty in 2006 to attempted robbery, a lesser charge that netted him a one year sentence and an immediate release. His attorneys claim he only took the plea to get out of jail instead of staying behind bars while awaiting a retrial. Poventud sued the city for wrongful conviction, but that suit was dismissed in 2012 thanks to the guilty plea.
That decision was reversed in 2014. "I feel super hyped," Poventud told the Daily News at the time. "I just can't believe how finally, after all this time, the justice system is listening. The truth will set you free."
Now, Poventud has gotten at least some reparation for his time behind bars, after a judge ruled that the apparent cop cover-up violated his right to a fair trial, and that he was entitled to settlement. Here's what the city Law Department has to say:
This case raised a novel legal issue concerning the resolution of the plaintiff’s criminal charges and its effect on his civil claims. In light of the court’s rulings continuing this litigation, an assessment of the evidentiary record and the substantial attorney’s fees that could be awarded in this 2007 action, settlement of this matter was fair and in the best interest of the City.
Poventud told the Times, "Nothing can give me back those years of my life I lost, but I’m happy to put this behind me."