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David Saraceno

Other Arson Cases
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In August 1994, a fleet of school buses in Haddam, Connecticut was set on fire, causing more than $500,000 in damage. Fifteen buses were destroyed in what was one of the worst cases of vandalism ever in the region.
 
Police suspected arson and questioned 18-year-old David Saraceno, who had a record as a teenager for vandalism and arson.
 
After a ten-hour interrogation, Saraceno confessed to the crime.  He quickly recanted, saying police threatened him and that he only confessed to make the police stop the interrogation.
 
Saraceno’s attorney filed a motion to suppress the confession, which he initially won. However, prosecutors appealed that ruling and in 1997, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled the confession was admissible. 
 
In June 1998, a Middlesex County jury convicted Saraceno of two counts of first-degree arson and one count each of conspiracy, criminal mischief and burglary.  Before Saraceno was sentenced, however, his attorney obtained new evidence.

Two former roommates from Haddam -- Charles J. Gataukas and Calvin Fear -- made statements implicating themselves in the crime, according to defense attorney M. Hatcher Norris. Fear gave an affidavit which implicated himself and three others. Saraceno was not one of them, according to the affidavit.

Prosecutors joined the defense in seeking to vacate Saraceno’s conviction. The motion was granted and the conviction was vacated in 1999.

As a condition of the dismissal, the prosecution required Saraceno to plead guilty to obstructing justice for giving a false confession, and was given a five year suspended sentence. 
 
The real arsonists were never charged, because the five year statute of limitations had expired.

– Maurice Possley

Report an error or add more information about this case.

Posting Date:  Before June 2012
State:Connecticut
County:Middlesex
Most Serious Crime:Arson
Additional Convictions:Other Violent Felony, Burglary/Unlawful Entry, Conspiracy
Reported Crime Date:1994
Convicted:1998
Exonerated:1999
Sentence:Not sentenced
Race:Caucasian
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:18
Contributing Factors:False Confession, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No