Prosecutor quits after revelations in construction bribery cases

Credibility of star witness Ifeanyi “Manny” Madu undermined by withheld evidence

Jan.January 24, 2020 10:45 AM
Diana Florence (inset) and Cy Vance (Credit: Getty Images, Cornell)

Diana Florence (inset) and Cy Vance (Credit: Getty Images, Cornell)

A Manhattan prosecutor who won convictions in several high-profile construction fraud cases has resigned over allegations she withheld evidence.

Assistant district attorney Diana Florence, the attorney-in-charge of Manhattan D.A. Cy Vance’s Construction Fraud Task Force, withheld evidence that contradicted the testimony of her star witness in seven bribery trials, the City reported.

The convictions of several high-profile defendants hinged on bribes that Ifeanyi “Manny” Madu, a former city Department of Environmental Protection manager, purportedly received.

But on the eve of trial of an executive of Kansas City-based engineering firm Black & Veatch charged with bribing Madu, Manhattan D.A Cyrus Vance’s office sent the defense attorneys 15,000 documents, including a 2015 Department of Investigation recording of Madu under oath. In the recording, Madu denied receiving bribes or committing any wrongdoing. In court papers, Florence said some of the information came from devices that prosecutors had inadvertently overlooked.

Prosecutors are obliged to disclose potentially exculpatory evidence to the defense. Cracking down on last-minute disclosures of evidence was a key element of reforms passed last year in Albany that took effect Jan. 1.

Several defendants in cases involving Madu have pleaded guilty to bribery and filing false documents, including officials at HAKS Engineers. Last month, after Madu testified he had received bribes from the president of D&B Engineers and Architects, the judge found the firm’s president, Henry Chlupsa, guilty of bribery. Chlupsa repeatedly denied the allegations.

Vance has faced criticism for his handling of cases involving high-profile people, including Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and family members of President Donald Trump. He has yet to decide whether to seek re-election in 2021. [The City] — Georgia Kromrei

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