Crooked City

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Key Figure in Porter case files for bankruptcy

A private Investigator whose work on the Anthony Porter exoneration is under scrutiny by the Cook County State's Attorney has reportedly filed for bankruptcy, records show. 

Private Investigator Paul Ciolino, who obtained a bizarre "confession" to a 1982 double murder from Alstory Simon that allowed Anthony Porter to go free, filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

It's quite a fall for the once venerated investigator, who, along with former Professor David Protess at Northwestern's Innocence Project,  uncovered "evidence" of Porter's innocence and Simon's guilt.

Ciolino filed for bankruptcy the year after the university conducted an internal investigation of David Protess' Innocence Project and concluded Protess had lied to the school and its attorneys about his investigations. 

An exhaustive investigation into the Porter case by the Cook County State's Attorney's Conviction Integrity Unit is reportedly underway. Both men face repeated accusations of malfeasance in their quest to free Porter. Chief among them is the claim that Ciolino coerced a confession from Alstory Simon. Ciolino has also faced similar accusations in other key wrongful conviction cases. 

Simon's attorneys, for example, recently sent a letter to Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez claiming that Alstory Simon's "allegations of coercion would later be corroborated through discovery of a systemic, well-documented pattern proving Northwestern's use of identical coercive tactics in several other cases."

After Porter was released, his attorneys filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the city, claiming the detectives conspired to arrest Porter without probable cause. Most people figured the city would settle, but after reviewing the evidence, the city's attorney took the case to court and won in 2005. It was one of the key developments in the case showing that the Porter exoneration was fraudulent. 

Porter, his lawyers and his entourage of advocates got nothing. 

Now two questions arise from the prosecutor's investigation into the Porter case: Will they free Alstory Simon from prison, and will they initiate a larger investigation into Northwestern's Innocence Project in the Protess/Ciolino years?