The Associated Press reports that Leonard Pelullo argued that he should get a new trial because prosecutors had withheld evidence from him, and wanted the justices to decide whether a prosecutor’s failure to turn over evidence is excused by a defendant’s ability to locate evidence helpful to his case.
In the 1990s, during an investigation by federal authorities in Florida, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, federal officials raided a large warehouse in Miami, where they seized 904 boxes, 114 file cabinets and 10 file drawers containing documents from Pelullo’s 25 companies. Before his trial, prosecutors insisted they had not found any documents that would have helped Pelullo’s defense to the New Jersey charges, according to the AP.
Pelullo was convicted in 1997 for siphoning $4.2 million from Compton Press’ pension and retirement funds after he took control of the firm and put it out of business, and sentenced to 17 1/2 years in prison. Pelullo’s lawyers later discovered what a federal judge described as “a mass” of evidence that could have helped Pelullo contradict several government witnesses, so the judge ordered a new trial.
The US 3 rd Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the order, saying prosecutors had given Pelullo and his lawyers numerous chances to review the documents, and that Pelullo should have known what was in the records because they were his.
The case is Pelullo v. the United States, 05-244.