Bribery claim false says Medill TA, investigator

Christina Salter

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The allegations of unethical practices made by witnesses in a court filing from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office are false, Sergio Serritella, a private investigator and teaching assistant for the Medill Innocence Project, wrote in a press release Wednesday.

According to the Tuesday filing, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office found a “multitude of inconsistencies” and “severe credibility issues” with research performed by students for the Medill Innocence Project investigating the 1982 murder conviction of Anthony McKinney. In the filing, prosecutors disclosed that witness Tony Drakes, a convicted criminal, accused the students of paying him off during their investigation.

According to the filing, Drakes alleged that students promised him payment for an interview.

He also said Serritella, who was working with the students, paid a cab driver $60 and had the driver give him $40.

“All of the investigative reporting was in line with the highest ethical standards and Drakes was not paid, directly or indirectly, for granting an interview,” Serritella wrote in the release.

In a videotaped statement gathered by a group of students in 2004, Drakes said he was present at the murder in 1978 and that McKinney was not there at the time of the murder.

Drakes said he was paid because he made a statement that exonerated McKinney, and he then used the money to buy crack cocaine, according to Tuesday’s filing.

Editor’s note: The original version of this sidebar incorrectly spelled Sergio Serritella’s name. THE DAILY regrets the error.

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