An Innocent man imprisoned ...
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Sarah Wallace, Chief Investigative Correspondent for ABC's Channel 7 Eyewitness News, investigated Allan Stern's case and discovered much evidence to prove his innocence. See her video and read the transcript report below.

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Investigation Into Bizarre, Execution-Style Murder May Have Led To A Wrong Conviction

(New York-WABC, March 6, 2003)
A devoted wife is fighting to prove her husband is innocent in a bizarre execution-style murder involving hitmen. The Eyewitness News Investigators have spent months looking into the case, and what they’ve unraveled is a twisted tale involving a shady star witness and much more. Sarah Wallace has more.


When I first received a letter from Rosemary Stern about her husband’s case, it read like a screenplay. And then we met the players, and the script got even more incredible. We went to prison, interviewed the supposed mastermind of a contract hit, and then we tracked down an admitted torturer and killer, the man the prosecution built its case around.


At first, Robert DaSilva wanted to know how we found him. Then his memory about his admitted role in a contract murder case suddenly got fuzzy.


Robert DaSilva, Witness: “That’s so long ago.”


DaSilva may want to forget the case, but the man he helped put in prison relives every detail, every minute of every day. Allan Stern is serving a 25-year to life sentence for masterminding a contract hit on his brother-in-law, Arthur Katz.


Katz’ body was discovered in lower Manhattan, on a wintry night in 1980, near the entrance of the Holland Tunnel. He had been shot twice in the head, execution style. Tire tracks led away from the scene. Katz’s murder remained unsolved for eight years. even though his family believed the motive was obvious.


Katz’s wife she didn’t want us to show her face.


Katz’s Wife: “He had a drug problem. He owed drug dealers a lot of money and he was threatened.”


But the drug theory evaporated after Robert DaSilva contacted police in 1988, telling them his boss ordered the murder. DaSilva had worked as the superintendent for several Upper West Side buildings managed by Allan Stern.


Sarah Wallace, Eyewitness News: “What did he get out of this?”

Allan Stern, Convicted Of Murder: “He got revenge on me for firing him.”


DaSilva’s story, detailed in a police statement, was straight out of the movies. At Stern’s request, DaSilva supposedly enlisted a former tenant named Ritchie, who then hired two hitmen named Crazy Joe and Sam Feet to commit the murder.


But now DaSilva says...


DaSilva: “I don’t know if they did it. I don’t know who did it.”


But that’s not what DaSilva said during the trial, when he was the prosecution’s star witness.


But were authorities aware of his background, as an admitted former member of a Brazilian death squad?


Wallace: “You killed people? You tortured them?”

DaSilva:  “Yes, I did.”

Wallace: “In Brazil?”

DaSilva:  “Yes, I did... Get this guy to talk. Fine and dandy, no problem.”


DaSilva also admitted to a violent history after he came to the US.


DaSilva: “My boss knows that I beat up this guy, right in front of her. She knows. She knows that I’m a loose cannon, she knowsI was in the revolution in Brazil.”


From enforcer to informant, DaSilva wore a wire for the DA and secretly taped conversations where Allan Stern makes statements about Katz’ murder that sound incriminating. But transcripts of the tapes we reviewed also show that key portions favorable to Stern were taken out by the prosecution at the last minute.


The defense objected, but to no avail.


And there was more evidence never disclosed. Remember how we told you Arthur Katz’ body was discovered in lower Manhattan, well a couple of days after the murder, just across the river, a potentially critical lead emerged.


Blood and a shell casing were found in a stolen car in lrvington, New Jersey. Homicide detectives investigating the Katz murder took samples for a comparison.

Stern: ‘Thirteen years... We still never got the results.”


This attorney for the family filed legal papers...


Stern’s Attorney: “According to the the medical examiner’s office, they told me that the blood matched that of the victim, Mr. Katz. Now think of all the leads that that could have given the defendant.”


The DA’s office now claims the blood didn’t match Arthur Katz.


Wallace: “In this case, do you think there was an injustice?” Stern’s Attorney: “I certainly do.”


Allan Stern’s wife, who raised three children by herself in the couple’s White Plains home, is still trying to track down leads to prove her husband innocent.


Rosemary Stern: “I’m not ashamed, even to say that he’s in prison. I’m really not ashamed anymore. And I never was, because I always knew he was innocent.”


At the time of his arrest, prosecutors painted Stern as a slumlord who threatened tenants, and Robert DaSilva says that’s the only reason he went to police. Not so, say tenants who even signed a petition claiming it was DaSilva who was violent and abusive, not Stern.


Sonja Roman, Tenant: “All Bob ever did was lie. He was a conniving person.”

Wallace: “You actually said he was evil?”

Roman: “He was evil.”


DaSilva: “I remember Richie.”


Ritchie is the man DaSilva claimed had been a go-between for the hitmen. The Stern family obtained police log notes with a phone number, and the name Richard Cannizzo, listed in Brooklyn. We found Richard Cannizzo with that same phone listing, He now lives at the Jersey shore.


Wallace: “Did you or do you know Roberto Da Silva.”

Richard Cannizzo: “No.”

Wallace: “And no one from the police department has ever questioned you about this?”

Carinizzo: “No.”
Wallace:   “You would think the police would want to try to find a key player in a murder case, as you supposedly were.”
Cannizzo: “Basically.”


The bottom line is that the prosecution never produced a ‘Richie’ or the two alleged gunmen: Crazy Joe and Sam Feet.


Stern is now asking a federal judge to overturn his conviction. The Manhattan DA’s office declined an interview, their chief assistant district attorney saying, “Allan Stern was convicted beyond a reasonable doubt. We have no reason to change our opinion of the result.”


Stern: “There has always got to be hope. I’m in jail 13 years, its like a lifetime being away from things.”


Rosemary Stern travels every weekend to visit her husband at Eastern Correctional Facility in Upstate New York.


Rosemary Stern: “Sometimes, you know, I'm tired, but I always haveto make that effort to go up there. Because that’s the only... how can I say... thing in my life that I have to make me happy... [Starts crying] I’m sorry.”


The only way Stern’s family learned of the police reports and other evidence is by filing countless Freedom Of Information requests.


Meanwhile, Robert DaSilva currently works as a New York City elevator inspector. It is a job that he got three months before he testified against Allan Stern. The DA’s office says DaSilva was hired on his own merits.