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John Manfredi

Other Brooklyn Exonerations That Included Perjury or False Accusations
In June 1986, the Kings County District Attorney’s Office charged 14 current or former employees of the New York City Board of Education with taking “tens of millions of dollars” in bribes from school-maintenance contractors over a nine-year period, beginning in 1977.

The defendants were accused of demanding kickbacks ranging from two percent to 10 percent of some of the $84 million in maintenance and repair contracts authorized by the board each year.

Among those charged was 48-year-old John Manfredi, a Board of Education area manager who was accused of shaking down Daniel Sherman, the owner of an insect and rodent extermination company, one of the many companies that made up the $84 million worth of yearly contracts. Manfredi was charged with grand larceny, receiving bribes, and conspiracy.

The prosecution claimed that in 1977 some Board of Education building-maintenance inspectors, who were responsible for determining whether contractors were fulfilling their contracts, met secretly and decided to demand two percent of the original contract price, 10 percent of additional work during the performance of a contract and 10 percent of emergency jobs.

By the time Manfredi went on trial in Kings County Supreme Court in March 1989, the number of Board of Education employees charged with taking bribes had grown to 26 and 13 of them had pled guilty.

The primary witness against Manfredi was Sherman, who testified that Manfredi demanded bribes to make sure Sherman could keep his extermination contract. Sherman said that Manfredi terminated his contract when Sherman balked at paying the bribes, and that his company had been forced out of business because of the loss of the contract. Sherman claimed he reported this to the FBI, which turned the investigation over to Kings County authorities.

Manfredi testified in his own defense and denied shaking down Sherman. Manfredi told the jury that he told his superiors that Sherman failed to perform required work and falsely billed for work that was not done. Manfredi said that upper management terminated Sherman’s contract following his report.

On April 4, 1989, the jury convicted Manfredi of bribery, larceny and conspiracy. He was sentenced to two to six years in prison. Manfredi spent five days in custody before he was released on bond pending appeal. After his appeal was denied, Manfredi entered prison in January 1991.

Prior to Manfredi’s trial, Sherman filed a federal lawsuit against the New York Board of Education, Manfredi and numerous other Board employees seeking damages for the loss of his business.

In January 1992, the lawsuit went on trial in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Sherman lost on all his claims in March 1992. Prior to the trial, Manfredi was dismissed as a defendant in the case.

After Manfredi was paroled in January 1993, he began researching the civil suit and learned that part of the the evidence in the case was a report of an internal investigation conducted by the Board of Education’s Inspector General after Manfredi was charged in 1986. That report documented $26,000 in overcharges submitted by Sherman—precisely what Manfredi had claimed in his defense.

The Board of Education’s investigation of Sherman for the civil lawsuit also uncovered evidence that Sherman’s company did still exist and that he remained a part owner. Sherman, however, concealed his interest in the company because he was divorcing his wife and did not want the value of his shares to be considered in the divorce settlement.

Most significant, however, was the discovery that Sherman voluntarily made a tape recording of allegations of corruption by Board of Education employees which he submitted to the FBI prior to the District Attorney’s investigation. In that tape, Sherman specifically said that Manfredi had not demanded any money from him and that he had not paid any money to Manfredi.

Armed with this evidence of Sherman’s perjury and the prosecution’s failure to disclose compelling evidence of innocence, Manfredi filed a motion in the fall of 1993 seeking to vacate his convictions. In January 1994, the trial judge ordered a hearing on Manfredi’s claim that the prosecution had withheld evidence of his innocence.

On August 18, 1994, the Kings County District Attorney’s Office conceded that the evidence should have been disclosed to Manfredi and asked that the convictions be vacated. New York State Supreme Court Justice Francis Egitto granted the motion and the charges were then dismissed.

In 1995, Manfredi filed a claim for compensation from the New York Court of Claims, but the claim was denied.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 9/26/2014
State:New York
County:Kings
Most Serious Crime:Bribery
Additional Convictions:Theft, Conspiracy
Reported Crime Date:1986
Convicted:1989
Exonerated:1994
Sentence:2 to 6 years
Race:Caucasian
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:48
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No