Florida Officer Linked to Two Wrongful Convictions
According to the
, former Broward County Sheriff’s Major, Tony Fantigrassi, who has been linked to the wrongful conviction of Jerry Frank Townsend, is now being sued for allegedly coercing a confession in the Anthony Caravella case.
Both Townsend and Caravella were exonerated through DNA testing—Townsend in 2001 and Caravella in 2010. Each of them served over two decades in prison for murders that they didn’t commit after false confessions led to their wrongful convictions. Caravella was only 15 years old when he was interrogated and had an IQ of 67. Townsend, who also has a low IQ, ultimately confessed to six murders that he didn’t commit. Studies have shown that juveniles and the mentally disabled are especially vulnerable to making false confessions. The
Jurors will only hear what Fantigrassi did in the Caravella case, but over the years he was a key player in some of Broward’s most notorious wrongful conviction cases. He was also linked to a controversy over a wrongly worded Miranda rights warning form used for years in Broward. And he retired under a cloud in 2005 during the Sheriff’s Office faked crime statistics scandal.
“When the same people are involved in the same horrendous results, one cannot think it’s a coincidence,” said Broward Public Defender
when asked about Fantigrassi’s record.
Caravella’s attorney in the civil case, Barbara Heyer, also represented Townsend and prevailed in settling for $2 million with the Sherriff’s Office in that case. In addition to Fantigrassi, Caravella is also seeking compensation from the city of Miramar, the Sheriff’s Office and three retired Miramar detectives.
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Jerry Frank Townsend
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