Queens lawyer allegedly tried bribing murder witness so he could file $22M wrongful conviction suit
Scott Brettschneider plotted to pay a murder witness to recant his trial testimony
Brettschneider hatched an audacious scam to free a convicted killer and rake in a windfall from a wrongful conviction suit – prosecutors
Scott Brettschneider who represented Wayne Martin during his wrongful conviction case, was indicted May 1 in the witness tampering plot
Brettschneider, 61, had been was arrested in March on unrelated charges of filing fake drug treatment records in a bid to spring a client from prison early
He has entered a plea of not guilty
Lawyer accused of being shady: Scott Brettschneider, aka Mighty Whitey’ is embroiled in alleged witness tampering for a mega-payout
New York based attorney Scott Brettschneider, allegedly plotted to pay a murder witness to recant his trial testimony as part of an audacious scam to free a convicted killer and rake in big bucks from a wrongful conviction suit, prosecutors say.
Prosecutors allege Brettschneider, aka ‘Mighty Whitey’, cooked up a fraudulent scheme to subvert the criminal justice system and make tens of millions in the process.
The veteran Queens lawyer plotted to pay a murder witness to recant his trial testimony as part of an audacious scam to free a convicted killer, then exploit the backend, cashing in from a wrongful conviction suit, prosecutors say.
While the scheme was ultimately unsuccessful, the very prospect troubles advocates who help the wrongfully convicted in their quest for freedom and compensation.
“This could be so damaging,” said Jon Eldan, the director of After Innocence, a re-entry and advocacy program.
Trial veteran Scott Brettschneider, [left], seen in court with his client Charles Gallman [right] who was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on July 16, 2017. That case led to the witness tampering probe
In a letter to the judge requesting a high bond, Brooklyn federal prosecutors outlined the alleged bogus exoneration scheme.
Prosecutors say the attorney conspired with Charles Gallman, a “pseudo legal assistant” with a rap sheet that includes murder and robbery.
The feds say Gallman, 56, also has a history of bribing and intimidating witnesses for Brettschneider and other lawyers. Gallman and others are heard on the wiretaps referring to the lawyer as “Mighty Whitey.”
The two men were caught on a wiretap in December 2014 strategizing about landing the convicted murderer as a client, according to court papers.
“Scott, we gotta get this guy,” Gallman said of the unidentified inmate.
Brettschneider agreed. “Oh, absolutely,” he replied.
Gallman laid out a plan: go to the trial witness who identified the shooter and get a statement about police coercion.
Gallman even previewed a possible statement. “he police told him to lie, he better say it’s this guy else they’re gonna lock him up.”
The 61-year-old longtime attorney who has successfully represented people in wrongful Brooklyn convictions, including Derrick Hamilton and Wayne Martin, has entered a plea of not guilty in a potentially career ending probe.
New York attorney Scott Brettschneider, [left], who represented Wayne Martin [right], during his wrongful conviction case, is facing legal hurdles of his own
A second factor was critical to landing the client: Gallman and Brettschneider would own the recantation, forcing the convicted murderer to hire their firm.
“We got the statement,” Gallman said. “He don’t want us to do the s— then I am keeping the statement.”
“Oh absolutely,” replied Brettschneider.
Brettschneider, who has taken more than 200 trials to verdict and has worked on at least two high-profile wrongful conviction cases, described the case as a “slam dunk” and “home run” on wiretaps.
Gallman was elated at the prospect of flooding the Queens County District Attorney’s office with innocence cases, prosecutors said. He and Brettschneider envisioned multimillion dollar settlements and early retirements.
“The two men started dreaming about how many millions of dollars the civil case would bring,” reads the prosecutors’ letter to the judge.
“Brettschneider thought they could get a third of $22,000,000, agreeing with Gallman that it could be their ‘retirement money.'”
But first they needed the witness to recant.
In the following days, detectives saw Brettschneider pick up Gallman in his car – and then the witness.
Later that day, the wiretap picked up Gallman delivering a rave review of how the witness lied through his teeth in rehearsal: “The best recantation I ever heard.”
“We got this money man we got this,” Gallman added.
But an obstacle soon surfaced.
Defense attorney Scott Brettschneider representing Tyrone Gainer, at NY State Supreme Court in Brooklyn. Gainer was was sentenced to 20 years to life for shooting an NYPD officer’s boyfriend
The witness balked at committing his story to paper until he was paid upfront. He didn’t want to be “waiting waiting waiting” for years while a lawsuit worked its way through the courts. Gallman promised some cash in the coming months, but acknowledged that the six-figure payoff would take time.
“The money don’t come till the lawsuit but we trying to get some upfront money,” Gallman said.
“I plan all of us having six seven hundred thousand dollars out this s— man.”
Prosecutors did not say how far Brettschneider and Gallman advanced the scheme, if at all.
Brettschneider was already looking at up to five years of his own prison time based on the indictment unsealed in March on unrelated charges, this time for filing fake drug treatment records in a bid to spring a client from prison early.
In that case, Brooklyn federal prosecutors allege that Scott Brettschneider lied about a client’s supposed drug problem to prison authorities in order to spring the man from prison early. Three other men were also charged in that case.
Indictment of Scott Brettschneider 2
According to prosecutors, the lawyer was in on the 2014 letter from his assistant, who was fronting as Richard Marshall’s treatment provider.
Marshall was in for crack cocaine distribution, but he didn’t have drug and alcohol problems.
Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said Brettschneider “participated in a scheme to gain a narcotics trafficker early release from prison by falsely informing the Bureau of Prisons that he was a candidate for a drug rehab program.”
Brettschneider pled not guilty and was released on $500,000 bond.
The feds say in their letter that Brettschneider will “almost certainly be disbarred” as a result of the case.
Gallman, 56, who was also indicted and pled not guilty in the fake drug treatment records case, remains behind bars at the Metropolitan Correctional Center.