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Martin Tankleff settles wrongful imprisonment lawsuit for nearly $3.4M

Martin Tankleff speaks at an event at Nassau Community College after his conviction was vacated. (File Photo)
Credit: Handout/NCCC

New York State has agreed to pay a Long Island man $3.37 million in a wrongful imprisonment settlement after he spent 17 years behind bars for his parents’ murder before his conviction was vacated, the Associated Press reported Jan. 7.

Martin Tankleff served 17 years in a state prison after being convicted of the 1988 murder of his parents, Seymour and Arlene. An appellate court vacated his conviction in 2007 and all charges against him were dropped the next year.

He later filed a lawsuit against the state and a separate federal suit against Suffolk County and the detective who investigated the murder.

The lawsuit against New York State, which was settled Tuesday for $3.37 million, is for damages relating to Tankleff’s claim of unjust conviction and imprisonment. His lawsuit against Suffolk County and Detective K. James McCready is still pending in federal court.

“I’d like to thank my family and friends who have stood by me for the past twenty-five years,” Tankleff said in a statement. “I am looking forward to my federal trial, where I hope to expose the misconduct that caused my wrongful conviction so that it does not happen to anyone else.”

“This settlement is one more step in the long road to right a terrible injustice,” Tankleff’s lawyer, Bruce Barket, said. “The next step will be a full public trial in federal court exposing the wrongdoing by law enforcement and making sure it does not happen to anyone else.”

Another member of Tankleff’s legal team, Barry Scheck, said they have found new forensic evidence that shows Arlene and Seymour Tankleff were “murdered by assailants who acted with efficiency and brutality.”

“I am pleased that the forensic evidence that Barry Scheck has developed has confirmed what we always knew, Marty Tankleff is innocent,” Barket said.

Note: This article was last updated at 2:20 p.m. on Jan. 8.

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