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City Of Norfolk Endangered By Potential $68 Million Lawsuit From Wrongly Convicted Sailors

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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The lawyers for four sailors wrongly convicted of rape and murder have threatened a $68 million lawsuit that, if successful, could damage the city of Norfolk, Va.

Three of the men’s lawyers told Norfolk that if the city doesn’t agree to start negotiations by June 1, a lawsuit may quickly follow. Currently, however, Norfolk only maintains a lawsuit fund of $7 million, meaning that if a judge grants a $68 million judgment, the outcome could be disastrous, The Virginian-Pilot reports.

In other words, the city is solely responsible for paying out any judgments. A $68 million judgment could entail a massive tax increase or a huge cut in city services so that the municipality can stay afloat.

Derek Tice, Joseph Dick and Danial Williams were wrongly convicted of the rape and murder of Michelle Moore-Bosko in 1997, while her husband was out on deployment. Eric Wilson, the fourth sailor, was only convicted of rape. No physical evidence existed to link any of the four men to the crime, and inmate Omar Ballard finally confessed in 1999 that he was responsible. Ballard’s DNA matched the DNA found at the scene of the crime.

Still, three of the four men served a decade before finally being released in 2009, due to intervention from then-Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine.

Wilson got out before 2009, as he was only convicted for rape, but did not receive a pardon at the time.

The detective responsible for railroading the men is now in prison for unrelated misconduct.

All four sailors received a full pardon March from Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

“These pardons close the final chapter on a grave injustice that has plagued these four men for nearly 20 years,” McAuliffe spokesman Brian Coy said at the time. “While former Governor Kaine had initially granted conditional pardons in the case, more exculpatory information discovered since then and detailed by [U.S. District] Judge John Gibney during exhaustive evidentiary proceedings indicate that absolute pardons are appropriate.”

Behind closed doors, the Norfolk City Council is carefully considering what steps to take to handle the Norfolk Four looking for compensation.

Tice wants $10 million. Dick wants at least $20 million. Williams and Wilson want at least $19 million each.

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