Allegedly Coerced Confession after Lie Detector “Test” Leads to Acquittal

In an article titled, “Acquittal in Fire at Stable,” Newsday staff writer Pete Bowles reports on alleged police misconduct in the polygraph interrogation of a Brooklyn man. Excerpt:

A high school dropout who told police that he accidentally sparked a fire that killed 21 horses in a Brooklyn stable was acquitted Friday by a jury that believed his testimony that the confession was coerced and false.

Frank Esposito, 18, was found innocent of arson, reckless endangerment and 21 counts of aggravated cruelty to animals in the June 9, 2000, blaze at the Bergen Beach Stables near his home in Mill Basin. He had faced up to 15 years in prison.

“The police conduct in this case was unconscionable and the jury found it to be unconscionable,” said Esposito’s attorney, Nicholas Gravante Jr. “The police coerced him into making a false confession, and we were able to prove it was false. He never had anything to do with the stable fire.”

According to a videotaped statement played at trial, Esposito told detectives he set fire to some lumps of hay while smoking marijuana outside the stables about 11:30 p.m. Fire later engulfed the stables, killing 21 horses. Firefighters were able to save three horses.

Esposito testified he made up the story after being interrogated by police for 18 hours. He said that during the grilling he voluntarily took a lie detector test. He said the officers told him he had failed the test and that he should say he accidentally set the fire to help himself.

“The kid thought he had failed the test and that he had no way out,” Gravante said. “They duped him. He couldn’t take it anymore and told them what they wanted him to say.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.