Murder conviction already overturned, federal judge orders man freed in drug case

A White Plains federal judge has ordered the release of a New York City man who had served 18 years for a murder conviction that was overturned last week.

Fernando Bermudez had a 27-month federal sentence waiting at the end of the 23-year state sentence he received for his conviction of second-degree murder in connection to a shooting near a Manhattan club in 1991.

But a state judge in Manhattan overturned the murder conviction last week, saying one witness lied and others were influenced into pointing the finger at Bermudez, now 40. Not only did the judge toss the conviction – he threw out the charges, saying Bermudez was innocent of the shooting.

Bermudez pleaded guilty in the drug case after he had been charged in the killing. The drug charges stemmed from an arrest by agents from the DEA’s Westchester County Task Force on Feb. 6, 1991, at the Cross County Shopping Center in Yonkers.

Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Karas ordered Bermudez freed on bail until June, 30, 2010, to give his lawyers time to  try and convince the federal Bureau of Prisons that Bermudez has long since served the 27 months in prison as part of the 18 years he wrongly served.

Read the Associated Press account of  the Bermudez case here.

Tim O'Connor

Timothy O'Connor has covered the federal justice system for The Journal News since 2002. He previously worked at newspapers in Orange County, New York, and New Jersey. Born and raised in the Bronx, he has a bachelor's degree in English and a master's in journalism.