3 men cleared in teen's strangling death sue Nassau for $200M

WOODBURY - Three men who spent years behind bars for a notorious Long Island murder only to later be cleared in the case are now suing Nassau County for nearly $200 million. Dennis Halstead, John Restivo and John Kogut were convicted in the 1984 death of 16-year-old Theresa Fusco, largely because of a videotaped confession to police by Kogut. In it, he said his two friends raped Fusco and that he strangled her, but he later recanted and said police had forced him to confess. All three were released and cleared in 2003 after new technology showed that their DNA didn't match evidence from the crime scene. Kogut was retried but acquitted, and charges were dropped against the other two men. Now, the former defendants are plaintiffs: they're suing Nassau County for nearly $200 million because they say cops and prosecutors forced the confession and planted evidence. Nassau County Attorney John Ciampoli says the county stands behind the way the case was handled. The county has hired a criminal law firm from Manhattan to handle the civil case at a cost that could reach several hundred thousand dollars. The case is expected to take about eight weeks. To watch archival News 12 coverage of the case, go to Optimum TV Channel 612 and select 'News 12 Extra.'

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