Anthony DiPippo, who was twice convicted of raping and murdering a 12-year-old girl before being found not guilty during his third trial, has settled with Putnam County for $12 million, much to the chagrin of District Attorney Robert Tendy.
After being convicted of raping and murdering Josette Wright at two separate trials, DiPippo was acquitted in 2016 after two decades behind bars, walking away scot-free.
DiPippo was alleged to have killed Wright with his friend Andrew Krivak, who remains in prison following his conviction in 1997, though he too has been granted a new trial last year. Krivak has admitted to the crime in court, though DiPippo has steadfastly maintained his innocence.
After being acquitted following his third trial, the county faced liability for civil rights violations, including wrongful conviction and due process claims by DiPippo’s defense team.
The county announced the settlement on Friday, Aug. 14, drawing the ire of Tendy’s office, with the DA saying that he “condemns this decision in the strongest terms possible.”
“It is a matter of public record that Mr. DiPippo was twice convicted by a jury of raping and murdering a 12-year-old girl,” Tendy said. “He was found not guilty after a third trial. This does not translate into giving him $12 million.”
The county will be on the hook for paying $200,000, with the rest of DiPippo’s settlement covered by insurance.
Tendy contended that no civil rights were violated, calling out elected officials for agreeing to the multi-million dollar settlement.
“Had the Legislature, County Executive, and County Attorney bothered to take the time to look at this lawsuit carefully by conferring with my office, they would have realized that this lawsuit had no factual or legal basis and would ultimately fail,” Tendy said.
DiPippo's attorney, Nick Brustin, has not commented since the settlement was announced.
The District Attorney noted that in all the years that DiPippo’s criminal case was being tried and re-tried there had never been any findings by any court of a civil rights abuse or any police wrongdoing.
"The allegations in this lawsuit could have been disproven,” Tendy said. “However, the county never completed, and perhaps never even began, discovery in order to investigate DiPippo’s baseless claims.
“They never held formal depositions of (DiPippo) or any of his witnesses,” he continued. "They never conducted any follow-up discovery because they never truly began the process of defending this absurd lawsuit.
Tendy went on to allege that, “In (his) opinion, based on the public comments made by the legislators as they cast their votes, the county was concerned with one thing only: money.”
According to Tendy, everyone responsible for the settlement has shown negligence, calling the decision “astonishing” and “reprehensible.”
“While (DiPippo’s) lawyers held perhaps 100 hours of depositions of approximately a dozen witnesses and demanded and received thousands of pages of discovery - something the county was supposed to do first but did not - the county took no depositions and received minimal to no discovery.
“It was impossible for the County to adequately examine the plaintiff’s claims,” Tendy added. ”It is incomprehensible that the county would agree to give (DiPippo) $12 million simply because he asked for it; but, realistically, that is what occurred. Had they consulted with my office, they would have discovered the baselessness of the plaintiff’s claims.
“I am astonished and sickened by this decision. It is incomprehensible and indefensible.”
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