NEW YORK – Statements made more than a decade ago by the star witness in a murder case against an FBI agent led to an embarrassing defeat Thursday for Brooklyn prosecutors, as a state judge threw out the case in mid-trial.

Quoting German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and citing what he saw as problems with the way the FBI handled mob informants, State Supreme Court Justice Gustin Reichbach discarded the four-count murder indictment against Roy Lindley DeVecchio and freed him of his $1 million bail restrictions.

“There is no evidence presented at this trial, save the now discredited testimony of Linda Schiro, that the defendant committed any of the acts charged in the indictment,” said Reichbach.

DeVecchio, who retired from the FBI in 1996, was indicted in 2006 on charges he leaked information to his mob informant Greg Scarpa Sr., allowing the now-deceased gangster to orchestrate four murders from 1984 to 1992. Schiro, who was Scarpa’s mistress for 30 years, claimed she was there when DeVecchio gave Scarpa the information.

Reichbach, who had been hearing the case without a jury since Oct. 15, dismissed the charges after Assistant District Attorney Michael Vecchione asked him to do so “in the interest of justice.”

Vecchione said that had his office known earlier of the existence of a 1997 taped interview that Schiro gave to reporters Tom Robbins and Jerry Capeci – in which she contradicted her sworn testimony during the trial – the case wouldn’t have been brought. The tapes surfaced after Robbins disclosed their contents in a Village Voice story published this week.

In a statement he read later to reporters at his lawyers offices, DeVecchio, 67, expressed relief that “this nightmare is over.” But he castigated the office of Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes.

“I will never forgive the Brooklyn DA for irresponsibly pursing this case after being warned by others that this one witness was untrustworthy and had told numerous inconsistent stories,” said DeVecchio, once a top FBI supervisor in New York on organized crime. “They failed to take the most basic steps to verify their source, preferring to “shoot first, ask questions later.”‘

DeVecchio then echoed a remark made famous by former Secretary of Labor Raymond Donovan when he beat a state fraud charge in 1987: “Where do I go to get my reputation back?”

But Reichbach tipped his hat to prosecutors in asking for a dismissal after Schiro was discredited. He also paid tribute to Robbins, who he said “came forward at considerable professional risk to reveal Schiro’s perfidy.”

However, Reichbach was critical of the FBI, which he said shielded Scarpa from prosecution and actively recruited him to carry out crimes on its behalf. According to trial testimony, the agency used Scarpa as a strongarm thug in the 1960s to solve the mystery surrounding the killings of three civil rights workers in the South, a tactic he said was “shocking” and suggestive of the attitude of some that torture can be used to fight terrorism. He also said DeVecchio was too willing to bend the rules to keep Scarpa as an informant.

Outside court Vecchione said that Schiro’s $2,200 monthly stipend was being stopped immediately and that prosecutors were asking for the appointment of a special prosecutor to see if perjury or other charges were warranted.

(c) 2007, Newsday.

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Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

AP-NY-11-01-07 1852EDT

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