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New York City, state, housing authority to pay $9 million to end lawsuits by wrongly convicted, imprisoned pair

A pair of wrongly convicted murder defendants agreed Thursday to a $9 million settlement, ending a bitter legal battle after each spent 16 years behind bars.

The Manhattan Federal Court deal resolves litigation brought by former murder co-defendants Danny Colon and Anthony Ortiz, found guilty in 1993 in a drug-related drive-by killing four years earlier on the Lower East Side.

“I’ve been waiting for this day a long time,” said Colon, 50. “I’m just glad it’s over. And I’m happy that me and my family can move forward from this moment on.”

The pair had sued New York City, the state and the city housing authority for the verdicts that left both men protesting their innocence from jail. All three will contribute to the settlement.The deal resolves all suits filed by the two men since their convictions were overturned.

“I am scarred by losing so many years of my life,” said Ortiz, 44. “I lost the opportunity to raise my son, and can never get that back. But I’m elated that this is over, and now I have what I need to get on with my life.”

Ortiz’s son was 10 months old when he and Colon were arrested on the word of a single witness — a former close friend turned junkie, Anibel Vera.

One of the lawsuits charged that two police detectives and a Manhattan prosecutor then railroaded the innocent men for the murder actually ordered by a homicidal drug lord.

 

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