On July 1, 1999, Thomas Palazzotto was shot and killed on the corner of Columbia and Kane Streets in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn.
Authorities believed he was killed in retaliation for a shooting at a park about an hour earlier between two rival gangs: The Hard Park (THP) and the Luquer Street Boys (LSB).
Palazzotto was associated with LSB, but was not a member of the gang. LSB was based in Red Hook and Carroll Gardens and sold cocaine—crack and powder—and marijuana. THP was based in Park Slope and sold Heroin, crack cocaine and marijuana.
After a lengthy federal investigation, Angel DeAngelo was charged with murder in aid of racketeering, and two firearms counts. He was convicted on April 3, 2003 based on the testimony of three admitted members of the THP gang who pled guilty to lesser charges and testified for the prosecution. DeAngelo was sentenced to life in prison.
In February 2004, U.S. District Judge John Gleeson vacated the convictions, citing “blatant perjury” by the gang members. In fact, the prosecution admitted that one of the witnesses had ordered the shooting. Moreover, the prosecution had continued to maintain that DeAngelo was the killer even after several prison inmates had come forward to say that another witness had confessed to the shooting.
Gleeson concluded that the witnesses had falsely accused DeAngelo of the murder in order to avoid life sentences, and that one of the three was likely the real killer.
In March 2004, the prosecution dismissed the murder charge against DeAngelo in exchange for a guilty plea to making a false statement when he denied that he was present at the murder. DeAngelo was then released.
– Maurice Possley