NEW YORK — A judge Monday threw out the murder case against a Las Vegas limousine driver accused in a 1990 gangland slaying authorities alleged was aided by a corrupt FBI agent.
Justice Gustin Riechbach found that prosecutors violated the rights of John Sinagra by letting more than 15 years pass before bringing charges against him.
Authorities bungled the case through a "failure of both oversight and direction," the Brooklyn judge wrote.
Prosecutors promised to appeal the ruling and move forward with the case against the ex-FBI agent, L. Lindley DeVecchio.
Joseph Giaramita, Sinagra’s lawyer, said his client, who was released from jail on Monday, was eager to return to Las Vegas.
Sinagra, 40, was charged last year with DeVecchio, who was accused of collecting weekly bribes from an informant, Colombo crime family captain Gregory Scarpa Sr.
In return, the agent fed classified information to Scarpa during a civil war within the family during the 1980s and ’90s, prosecutors said.
The information helped Scarpa knock off rivals and cooperators, including a man found shot five times in the head in 1990, prosecutors said. An indictment had accused Sinagra of killing the man on orders from Scarpa.
Scarpa was convicted of murder and racketeering and died in prison.
At recent court hearings, Sinagra’s defense team had argued that the 16-year delay had violated his right to due process and a speedy trial.
Prosecutors first countered by claiming the evidence against Sinagra surfaced in 2005.
But they later disclosed documents showing that investigators had received 10 years earlier a tip that he was the shooter in the 1990 hit.
Through a series of miscommunications, the 1995 tip was never investigated.
Instead, police closed the case in 1996 after mistakenly attributing the murder to a dead man, authorities said.