Warrant: Attorney promised witness deal to recant testimony in Norwalk shooting case
STAMFORD — A recently unsealed arrest affidavit details a quid pro quo deal in which an attorney would help get a man out of prison if that man recanted testimony against the attorney’s client.
Two months after the arrest of Stamford defense attorney Darnell Crosland, a judge unsealed his arrest affidavit showing the evidence the state has for charging the well-known attorney and unsuccessful Norwalk mayoral candidate with witness tampering and bribery.
According to the 18-page arrest affidavit, Crosland, 50, was representing defendant Marquel Middleton of West Haven for the attempted murder of Isaiah Genias of Norwalk in July 2017 during a brazen daylight shooting that left Genias shot six times on a suburban Norwalk street.
Crosland’s attorney Wayne Keeney dismissed the arrest affidavit as mostly containing hearsay and double hearsay.
Crosland, who was representing clients at the Stamford courthouse on Tuesday, declined comment on the case.
According to the affidavit, Genias had been arrested on a failure to appear charge and was in the Stamford courthouse lockup when Crosland told the prosecutor on the case, Paul Ferencek, that Genias had been trying to call him.
Ferencek expressed some doubt about the calls considering the fact that Genias was expected to testify against Middleton, but Crosland pulled out his phone and showed him two calls he said were from Genias, the affidavit said. One of those numbers was later found to belong to Genias.
According to the affidavit, Ferencek warned Crosland, who was representing the man who allegedly tried to kill Genias, that it would be unethical for him to talk to Genias because he was being represented by another attorney, Special Public Defender Miles Gerety, formerly the lead public defender at the Danbury courthouse.
But Crosland went down and spoke to Genias anyway, a fact that Crosland’s attorney does not dispute.
About a month later when Ferencek talked to Gerety about what Crosland told him, Gerety said he had not given permission for Crosland to speak to his client, the affidavit said.
Gerety spoke to Genias, who told him that on that day in late November Crosland met him in the basement lockup and told Genias that Gerety was no longer his lawyer.
“Crosland proceeded to tell Genias that he could get Genias out of jail if Genias recanted his written statement against Middleton with regard to the shooting incident,” Gerety told Ferencek, according to the affidavit.
Once hearing this, Ferencek checked the judicial marshals’ digital sign-in log showing that Crosland indeed had met with Genias in the courthouse lockup, the affidavit said. Video outside the interview room shows the meeting lasted about seven minutes.
In March 2019, investigators met with Genias and Gerety at the Corrigan Correctional Center in Uncasville. Genias told them that Crosland had met his mother at the Stamford courthouse in early September and offered to pay some of his medical expenses if he agreed not to testify against Middleton, the affidavit said.
Genias said that at the meeting in the courthouse lockup in late November, he heard a male voice asking to see his client and a judicial marshal appeared telling him that his attorney wanted to meet with him. Genias said the man introduced himself as Crosland, who proceeded to tell him that if he “didn’t testify against his client, Middleton, that Middleton would not testify and there would be no case, that the case would fall apart,” the affidavit said.
Genias said Crosland told him that he no longer had a lawyer and he offered Genias a new lawyer. Crosland then told him if he recanted his statement against Middleton, the new lawyer would be able to get him out of jail, the affidavit said.
When Genias told him he wanted to be out of jail by Christmas, he said that Crosland said that he could “make that happen.” A day later during a recorded call from the prison to his mother, Genias said that Crosland told him that his lawyer, Gerety, “fired himself.” He said Crosland wants to get him out of jail if he would help Middleton, the affidavit said.
Genias did corroborate Crosland’s claim that he called the defense attorney, the affidavit said. He said that Middleton’s girlfriend texted him a phone number and told him to call it. Sometime earlier in November while he was free he called and ended up speaking with Crosland, who he said wanted to meet with him. But Genias told him that he had a warrant out for his arrest and ended the call without agreeing to meet him.
Crosland’s attorney, Keeney, said much of what Genias said is untrue and designed to lighten the weight of the criminal charges he is facing, which include first-degree assault, illegal discharge of a weapon, carrying a pistol without a permit, carrying a dangerous weapon, criminal mischief and failure to appear in court.
“He’s willing to roll on anyone to get out of the charges,” Keeney said.
Keeney said Genias asked Crosland to meet him that day in November.
“Genias initiated the conversation and the subject matter. Darnell realized he was in a conflict of interest and turned him over to another attorney, which is prescribed by the canons of ethics,” Keeney said.
Crosland never told Genias to recant his earlier statement against Middleton, Keeney said.
As to the ethical conflict Crosland faced by speaking to Genias in the first place, Keeney said Crosland asked Gerety if he was representing Genias. Gerety told him that he no longer represented him and did not want to represent him in the future, Keeney said.
Gerety declined comment for this story, but continues to represent Genias.
Keeney said Crosland was down in lockup at the time to talk to another client.
“Genias told the marshals that he wanted to talk to Darnell. Darnell did not ask for him,” Keeney said.
The lawyer that Crosland sent to Genias, James Hardy, 36, has also been charged with witness tampering.
Hardy, of South Windsor, is alleged to have visited Genias at Corrigan the following March. There, according to the arrest affidavit, he told Genias that Crosland told him that he needed a lawyer and that he heard Gerety “fired” him as a client.
He told him that he could get him a far better deal than what Gerety was able to because he was “tight” with the prosecutor and would even help him get a Commercial Driver’s License. But there was no talk about getting Genias to recant his statement against Middleton, according to the affidavit. Hardy, who was also at the Stamford courthouse Tuesday, declined comment on the case.
Hardy’s attorney, William Dow, simply said, “My client will enter a plea of not guilty and is looking forward to having a jury weigh the allegations against him.”