With the Brooklyn DA race getting more and more heated of late, the NY Times tossed some fuel onto the fire today with an in-depth examination into the prosecution's handling of Louis Scarcella, the NYPD detective accused of leading flawed investigations of possibly dozens of criminal cases in Brooklyn. Scarcella, who helped wrongfully put a man in prison for 23 years for a murder he did not commit, has been under scrutiny by the DA's office for the past six months; according to the Times, though, prosecutors helped bolster Scarcella's investigations, supporting him and accepting shady witnesses and confessions.

In May, Brooklyn district attorney Charles Hynes ordered a review of about 50 of Scarcella's murder cases, prompted after another NY Times-led investigation found Scarcella used the same witness in a number of cases and defendants' confessions featured similar language.

A few months before that, Hynes's office revealed that Scarcella's detective work had put an innocent man, David Ranta, behind bars for 23 years; a subsequent look into Ranta's case found the detective had coached witnesses and covered up an investigation into another suspect, among other missteps. Other defendants have accused Scarcella of beating confessions out of them, tricking them into making false statements and fabricating witnesses.

But the Times has called Hynes's investigation into question, alleging that prosecutors were complicit in pushing Scarcella's sketchy evidence through. In Ranta's case, for instance, prosecutors offered an informer facing a lifetime in prison immunity, even though he made contradicting statements and failed a lie-detector test. The prosecution also failed to turn certain pieces of evidence over to the defense. "The fact is, there were red flags all over this case," Michael F. Baum, Ranta's trial lawyer, told the Times.

Hynes says his office has yet to uncover any further misdoings on the part of Scarcella. "We have not gotten to a point where we have found anything that appears to be problematic," he said. But his opponent in the DA race, Ken Thompson, has criticized the investigation, and serious questions have been raised as to whether Hynes can properly scrutinize his own office. Meanwhile, Scarcella, who retired in 1999, seems unfazed by the investigation. "Let them look at my convictions. I will help them if they need me," he said when he heard about Hynes's investigation in May. "I don’t know what else to say. I expect he will find nothing."