NYC Comptroller Scott M. Stringer Announces Pre-Litigation Settlement with Claimants Amaury Villalobos and William Vasquez after Convictions Vacated
March 3, 2017
(New York, NY) – New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer announced today settlements of $9.7 million each for the wrongful conviction claims of Amaury Villalobos and William Vasquez. In 1980, a fire in a residential building in Park Slope, Brooklyn, killed a mother and her five children. Mr. Villalobos and Mr. Vasquez were arrested in connection with the fire. They were, respectively, 30 years old and 29 years old at the time of arrest.
Each served approximately 32 years in prison after being found guilty of arson and murder at trial in 1982 and sentenced to 25 years-to-life. However, following an investigation, the Kings County District Attorney’s Conviction Review Unit (CRU) moved to vacate the convictions of Mr. Vasquez and Mr. Villalobos. Their case represents the longest period of incarceration for any conviction vacated by the CRU and the late Kings County District Attorney Kenneth Thompson, who said before his passing that “this is a case that never should have been brought.”
“Following a careful and thorough review of the facts of this case, my office was able to reach a settlement with the claimants that will serve the best interests of all parties,” Comptroller Stringer said. “I believe late District Attorney Ken Thompson would be pleased with our efforts to reach a settlement with Mr. Villalobos and Mr. Vasquez. We have reached an agreement that recognizes the years these men spent incarcerated and allows them and their families closure, while being prudent in fulfilling my office’s fiscal responsibility to the City of New York.”
Under Chapter 5, Section 93 of the New York City Charter, the Comptroller has the authority to settle any claims against the City.