A hotshot prosecutor turned television host may have gotten her perfect record through cheating, say several lawyers and the mother of one of those convicted.
Prior to that she went undefeated in more than two decades as a prosecutor in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office.
“Anna Sigga Nicolazzi never lost a case in her 21 years as a prosecutor for the Brooklyn DA — so it’s no surprise that her 35-0 courtroom conviction record factors into the title of her new true crime ID series,” stated a New York Post article from 2017.
Multiple attorneys and the mother of her most high-profile conviction dispute the characterization that Nicolazzi is some sort of prosecutorial hero. (RELATED: Courts Separate American Families While Media Ignore Their Stories)
He told the Daily Caller it’s very easy to explain her perfect record.
“The only way that happens is if you cheat. That’s the only way you do thirty trials and win them all,” O’Hara said.
#SharkWeek is coming! Sunday, July 28 at 8p and all week long on @Discovery and #DiscoveryGO. Thanks for the swag @DiscoveryID and @DiscoveryIncTV! (And yes, the glasses do have shark teeth around the rims). #TrueConviction will be watching! pic.twitter.com/Biudvyfyds
— Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi (@AnnaSigga_TC) July 27, 2019
O’Hara said Nicolazzi has a strategy. “In all her cases, the same exact pattern,” he said, “In summation, she tells the jury that the person did something worse than he was on trial for.”
O’Hara said that because prosecutors go last the summation takes on added significance, because it is the last thing the jury hears.
“She also in summation falsely misstates forensic evidence,” O’Hara added.
This happened in Nicolazzi’s most high profile, the conviction of John Giuca.
Known as the Grid Kid Killer, Giuca was convicted of felony murder in the death of Connecticut college student Mark Fisher.
Giuca was convicted of felony murder because four people claimed he’d confessed to encouraging and directing the shooter, Anthony Russo.
Nicolazzi suggested Giuca may have been the shooter, saying in her summation, “It’s even possible Giuca fired some of those shots himself.”
Oren Yaniv, a spokesperson for the Brooklyn DA’s office, said that Nicolazzi went on to describe some of the evidence to back this up like phone logs. However, no witness testified Giuca was the shooter, including Russo who said he himself was the shooter.
Doreen Giuliano is John Giuca’s mother and she has dedicated herself to overturning his conviction since the verdict, including going undercover a decade ago when tipped off to jury misconduct.
Giuliano told The Daily Caller that Nicolazzi was a ruthless prosecutor willing to stop at nothing to get and keep a conviction. (RELATED: Who Is The Florida State Prosecutor Who Acosta Said Went Easy On Jeffrey Epstein?)
Nicolazzi coerced witnesses, withheld critical evidence, and other forms of prosecutorial misconduct, Giuliano said.
— DiscoveryID (@DiscoveryID) January 16, 2018
Her son remains in jail even though three of the four people who implicated him in the murder have recanted.
Giuca and Fisher wound up at the same party, though they hadn’t met until that evening, thrown by Giuca on October 11, 2003.
The party broke up in the early morning hours of the next day and at approximately 6:30AM police found Fisher’s dead body in the neighborhood.
Anthony Russo was convicted of the murder.
Giuca was convicted without physical evidence but on the testimony of Russo, a jailhouse informant named John Avitto, and three of Giuca’s friends: Lauren Calciano, Albert Cleary, and Anthony Beharry.
They claimed — often with contradicting stories — that Giuca either gave Russo the gun he used to rob and kill Fisher, or that Giuca helped dispose of it after. Three have since recanted, with two — Beharry and Calciano — claiming they were coerced to testify.
Calciano submitted an affidavit on January 23, 2014, which stated in part: “Law enforcement pressured and frightened me to the point that I ultimately relented and told them what they wanted to hear. Specifically, I was pressured to ‘admit’ that John had told me that he gave Tony the gun before Tony shot and killed Mark Fisher. … The pressure placed on me by the DA and police was relentless.”
Calciano mentioned Nicolazzi’s name repeatedly in the affidavit.
Beharry also claimed to be coerced when he submitted an affidavit on January 13, 2014.
“I lied when I testified that I disposed of a gun after Mark Fisher’s death and in describing how I disposed of the gun,” he said. “I did this because of the threats made against me by the police and DA that I would be arrested and I was afraid that I would not be able to see my daughter again and would suffer other harm as well, such as losing my job.”
Mark Bederow has been handling Giuca’s appeal for several years and he said he discovered what he called “egregious” Brady violations.
A Brady violation is named after the 1963 U.S. Supreme Court case Brady v. Maryland.
In that decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that prosecutors were required to provide defense with all exculpatory evidence, or evidence favorable to the defense.
Since then, when a prosecutor withholds exculpatory evidence it is referred to as a Brady violation.
In 2013, Judge Alex Kozinski, for whom current Justice Brett Kavanaugh once clerked, said in a dissent, “There is an epidemic of Brady violations abroad in the land.”
Bederow said Nicolazzi’s Brady violations were “egregious,” and one discovery nearly got his client out of jail.
In 2018, Giuca’s conviction was overturned after Bederow successfully argued that Nicolazzi and Avitto secretly made an agreement to testify, which they then withheld from the defense.
According to Bederow, Avitto was in a drug treatment program which substituted for a jail sentence when he absconded from the program on June 9, 2005.
Bederow described what happened next. “Three days later he winds up in Nicolazzi’s office,” he said. “This is information he acquired in February [the purported confession]. They take him back to court [for Avitto’s criminal case]. She [Nicolazzi] appears on his case.”
Bederow said Nicolazzi spoke privately with his judge, which she also failed to disclose.
Giuliano said after the conviction was overturned in 2018, the Brooklyn DA argued her son was dangerous at a subsequent bail hearing but then offered him a deal in November to be home by Christmas, by pleading guilty and agreeing to time served.
In June 2019, the New York Court of Appeals reinstated his conviction, arguing that no deal had been made.
Yaniv pointed to the decision saying, “the defendant failed to prove either that there was any understanding or agreement between Avitto and the People about conferring any benefits … it would have been highly unusual for Judge Parker not to release Avitto under the circumstances [when he was brought on the voluntary return on a warrant]. In fact, late in September 2015, when Avitto came before Judge Parker in violation of the program’s rules, without ADA Nicolazzi there, Judge Parker released Avitto with a caution about cigarettes being unhealthy.”
Giuliano said that the appearance in front of Judge Parker was days before his testimony against her son, which a violation would have hurt.
Yaniv noted that eventually Avitto flunked out of the program and still served the maximum.
“Furthermore, when Avitto was sentenced to the max after getting violated out of the program, neither he nor his lawyer mentioned anything about a deal or benefit he had been offered,” Yaniv said.
Bederow said Nicolazzi also withheld a recording made with another jailhouse informant, Joseph Ingram, who contradicted Russo’s testimony.
In the recording, Ingram said he had conversations with both Giuca and Russo.
In the trial, Russo claimed that he gave Giuca the gun to dispose.
In this recording, Ingram tells a different story.
“The kid [Russo] came over, handed the gun, and John said he didn’t want any part of it,” Ingram said.
Bederow said this recording was not turned over to the defense and he only discovered it last year; he said by the time he discovered it he could not add it to the most recent appeal.
He plans on including it in a subsequent appeal.
Yaniv declined to comment on the recording but defended the case against Giuca, saying “none of these witnesses ever recanted under oath and I will just repeat the Appellate Division’s characterization of the evidence against Giuca as ‘overwhelming.’”
He said Nicolazzi left the Brooklyn DA’s Office with a very good reputation.
Justin Bonus and James Henning
Both Bonus and Henning also say they are working on appeals of Nicolazzi’s cases.
Bonus is working on an appeal for Jermaine Cox, who was convicted of murder in 2005 for a cigarette-smuggling dispute that ended in a death.
In an email, Bonus said Nicolazzi misrepresented the nature of an eye-witness lineup.
“In this case, Nicolazzi represented to defense counsel and the Court that the police did not show photos or photo arrays to witnesses. We know this because Cox’s attorney withdrew his pretrial motion to preclude Mr. Cox’s identification and because Nicolazzi reiterated this point at trial — no witnesses were shown Cox’s photos. This is false,” Bonus told the Daily Caller.
“One witness was shown a single photo of Cox, and at least two others were shown photo arrays,” he added. “Also, Nicolazzi withheld what appears to be exculpatory material from Cox’s attorney until right before trial. She impeded defense counsel’s ability to investigate Cox’s innocence, which he’s always maintained, and to prepare a defense. This type of practice is exactly why New York State changed the discovery laws [which take effect in 2020].”
James Henning said he’s also looking into a case of potential prosecutorial misconduct involving Nicolazzi; he said he hopes to file an appeal within the next six weeks, when he would comment more fully.
“This case bears some of the recognizable issues involving Nicolazzi,” he said.
He also noted that any prosecutor touting a perfect record has their priorities — to administer justice — misplaced.
Of the pattern, Yaniv noted rhetorically, “has this claim ever been found credible by any judge or was even made in a court motion?” (RELATED: Why is this Obamacare ‘navigator’ wanted by the cops?)
While the most recent appeal absolves Nicolazzi of a Brady violation, multiple appeals courts ruled she withheld evidence. The most recent decision called it harmless error.
In the most recent appeal, Judge Jenny Rivera wrote a dissent in which she stated, “As the majority acknowledges, the prosecutor withheld information about the relationship between this key witness and the District Attorney’s Office and also failed to correct the informant’s inaccurate and misleading statements.”
Emails to Aimee Buck and Debbie Sullivan of the Investigation Discovery press office were left unreturned.
An email to Weinberger Media, the production company producing True Conviction, was also unreturned.
For most of Nicolazzi’s time at the Brooklyn DA’s office, she worked under District Attorney Charles Hynes; Hynes term was scandal plagued with numerous overturned convictions due to prosecutorial misconduct.
Furthermore, Louis Scarcella, a disgraced former New York City Police Detective who has had fourteen convictions overturned while being accused of repeated forced confessions, witness tampering, and other police misconduct; the Brooklyn DA is reviewing seventy of Scarcella’s case.