A Brief Summary:

Carlos Ventura (a drug dealer) and Manuel Lugo met on the same night that Ventura was murdered.  They had a brief arguement over misinformation given to Ventura about Lugo (that Lugo was moving in on Venturas territory).  Lugo corrected the misinformation, they shook hands and went their separate ways. About 10 minutes later, shots rang out from the area Lugo had just left.  He walked back up the street to find that Ventura and his pregnant girlfriend had been shot to death.  Miraculously, the baby was born alive.

7 weeks later, Wilfredo Roman and Manuel Lugo were arrested.  Lugo was charged with ordering Roman to shoot Ventura and causing the death of Colon in the process.  Roman was charged with shooting Ventura and Colon. In a statement to police, Lugo admitted that he had an arguement with Ventura but that the arguement ended peacefully. That he had nothing to do with the shooting and that he was a block away talking to a girl when the shooting took place.  (it is worth noting that where Lugo was and where the shooting happened, aren’t visible to one another)Roman told police that he witnessed Lugo and Ventura argue and that shortly after a blue car arrived and that Lugo spoke briefly to the passenger. The car drove away and came back around.  Chino and a fat guy got out.  Chino walked over to Venturas car and shots rang out. (Being innocent Lugo never gave any credit to Romans statement)

Lugo and Roman were tried in April of 1994, by seperate juries.  During Lugos trial Angel Otero, the prosecutions only “eyewitness” to the shooting, testified that after the arguement between Lugo and Ventura, Lugo instructed Roman to kill Ventura but to be careful of his pregnant girlfriend(Marilyn Colon).  That he (Otero) then witnessed Roman pull out an Uzi from his coat and shoot Ventura and Colon.  His step-son, Julio Santos, testified that he heard the arguement between Lugo and Ventura but did not witness the shooting.

Ramona Garcia, the defenses only eyewitness, testified that on the night of the shooting, she was on Vyse Avenue and observed a car arrive.  That she saw 2 people get out of that car and then heard several gunshots.  She testified that these people were not Roman and Lugo.

On April 27,1994, Roman was acquitted of all charges and Lugo was convicted on all counts and sentenced to 45 year to life.  (Manuel is serving time for ordering these murders and no shooter has been charged with carrying it out)

Information revealed in a book by Professor Robert Jackall, published in 1997, states-Ulysses  “Chino” Mena alleged that Lugo was opening a drug spot on Vyse Avenue for Sepulveda (Lenny).  That Lugo was having problems with Ventura and turned to Sepulveda to persuade Ventura.  That Sepulveda, Mena and some other guys waited on Vyse until Lugo signaled that Ventura had arrived. Then Sepulveda asked “who is going to do it?”  Mena said he would and ran over to Venturas car where he shot Ventura and Colon.

6 days before Lugos sentencing, at Lenny Sepulvedas plea agreement (for numerous charges other than this crime)he admitted that he ordered Mena to kill Ventura.  Sepulveda added that he did that at Lugos behest and based on future drug business consideration. (Remember Lugo is incarcerated for ordering Roman to kill Ventura)

In an affadavit to Private Investigator Michael Race on Sept. 9, 2003, Angel Otero recanted his trial testimony and swore that Dawn Florio, Lugos prosecutor at trial, coached him on what to say at trial.  Otero also alleges that Florio gave him money to buy drugs at a Manhattan prison, “The Tombs” and that at the conclusion of that visit, he was searched and found in possession of $30. and was given an infraction for having contraband. September 2005, 2 years after this affadavit, Dawn Florio was arrested for given drugs to her imprisoned client at the same facility “The Tombs”)  (Florio is now a defense attorney after being fired from the Bronx DA’s office in 2000 for perjury)

In a sworn affadavit to Race on November 6th 2003, Julio Santos (Oteros step-son), also recanted his trial testimony stating that his step father told him to lie for reasons unknown to him.

In addition, Vivian Otero, Angels Oteros wife at the time, gave Race  an affadavit on Sept. 27., 2003.stating that about a month after Lugos arrest, she was interviewed by Dawn Florio and that she informed Florio that she was in her bedroom when the shots rang out.  That she left her room to check on her children (Julio and his sister) and that they were both in bed and Angel  Otero was in the living room. (Probably why Vivian was never called to testify because it would have blown Florios case out of the water) (It is worth noting that Dawn Florio was on her way to a judgeship at that time and was willing to do anything to win this conviction) Vivians 2003 affadavit supports Angel Otero and Julio Santos’s recantations.

Based on the above information, which was known to Florio at the time of the trial, but not to Lugos defense, it is clear that the verdict of conviction against Lugo was obtained based on false testimony.  Clearly, Angel Otero, the prosecutions only “eyewitness” never heard Lugo instruct Roman to kill Ventura and was apparently not even a witness to the shooting.

It is evident that in this case the police conducted a botched investigation and that Sepulveda and Mena (two informants)  while under promises of lenient sentences, could have been led to implicate Lugo in the crime to cover Florios wrongful conviction of lugo.  (Afterall, the DA’s office will not turn over their original confessions. Probably because they don’t mention Lugo and would only help exonerate him.)  Florio allowed Angel Otero to falsely testify at trial. Despite his admission to the murders of Ventura and Colon, Mena has never been charged.

Lugo maintains that he doesn’t know who killed Ventura and Colon.  That if Sepulveda ordered Mena to kill Ventura as records show , only they know why they did it. Sepulveda is the self admitted leader of one of the most vicious drug gangs this state has ever seen. 

Unlike Lugos admission, Roman, Mena and Sepulveda admissions, only demonstrate that apparently Roman was a witness to the crime and that Sepulveda and Mena were participants in the crime.

Confronted with totally different stories of what happened that night ( Sepulveda and Menas stories versus Oteros versus Romans) and with Vivian Oteros exculpatory statement, Florio acted  as prosecutor, defense counsel, judge and jury by going ahead with Angel Oteros lies.  Florio had an obligation as an assistant DA to present all the evidence for the jury to evaluate before reaching it’s decision.  By withholding crucial evidence, Florio has deprived Lugo of a fair trial.