John M. Annese
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. - A Todt Hill mobster who spent 21 years in prison for a rape he didn't commit lost his malicious prosecution case against the city on Wednesday, after a Brooklyn judge issued a summary ruling against him.
Scott Fappiano, 53, was released from prison in 2006, after a DNA test cleared him in the 1983 rape of an off-duty police officer's wife in her Brooklyn apartment, while her six-month-old son was home.
Fappiano received a $1.8 million settlement from the state for false imprisonment, said an Advance report. In 2007, he filed a federal suit against the city and six detectives, alleging they conspired to frame him for the crime by tampering with and making suggestions to witnesses, despite forensic evidence that cleared him.
He was released in 2006, with the help of the Innocence Project.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Sandra Townes issued a summary judgment in favor of the city, ruling that he did not have the evidence to support his claims of perjury and witness-tampering.
Regarding the victim's testimony against him in court, the judge said, "There is simply nothing from which a reasonable jury could infer that [her] identification resulted from unduly suggestive identification procedures."
The assailant, who was never caught, broke in while the couple slept, and used a phone cord to bind the police officer. He then repeatedly raped the officer's wife, took a beer from the refrigerator and smoked a cigarette.
The woman escaped the apartment wrapped in a towel and yelled for help, and the assailant fled.
She picked Fappiano out of a lineup the next day, even though he was 5 inches shorter than the 5-foot-10 attacker she first described, and testified against him at trial. Her husband couldn't identify him from that lineup, and blood-typing tests failed to link him with cigarettes and a stained towel left at the crime scene.
His first trial ended in a hung jury, but he was convicted at a second trial a year later and sentenced to between 20 to 50 years in prison.
In a statement to the Daily News, Fappiano's lawyer, Nick Brustin, criticized Judge Townes' decision: "It's incredibly disappointing for us and for Scott that after 22 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit the judge took four years to issue this decision, which we believe ignored the relevant evidence and disregards the relevant legal standards."
Fappiano, a purported Gambino crime family associate, has racked up two federal convictions since his release -- one in 2011 for taking part in a loansharking conspiracy, and the second in 2014 for extortion.
This past September, he was hit with a 366-day sentence for threatening to hurt a waste-company owner who was paying him protection money, said federal prosecutors.
In December of 2013, Fappiano agreed to pay $105,000 to resolve a civil lawsuit filed against him by his brother, Mark, of West Brighton. Mark Fappiano alleged his sibling failed to pay a $138,000 debt to him despite having the money from the false-arrest settlement.