Sources:  Washington Post and WJZ-TV

January 31, 2006

Leslie Vass:

Still Struggling with Wrongful Conviction After 31 Years
Leslie Vass
Leslie Vass
In 1975, Leslie Vass of Baltimore, Maryland was sentenced to 20 years for an armed robbery he did not commit.  At the time Vass was 17 years-old. After serving prison time for 10 years, a witness came forward saying it was not Leslie who did the robbery. Vass was set free and, in 1987, he received $250,000 compensation from the state of Maryland.

But the state failed to erase the erroneous robbery conviction from Vass' criminal record, ignoring orders by two judges and leaving the record open to the general public and private employers for twelve years.  In 1999, Vass received $50,000 compensation for the state’s failure to expunge his record of the criminal charges.  

"I am not happy at all about this," Vass said at the time in an interview with the Washington Post. He opted for a quick, $50,000 settlement to pay mounting bills and ward off eviction, rather than pursue protracted litigation for more money. The settlement bars him from seeking further relief.

"I just hope no one else ever has to go through what I've been through because of mistakes made by the state," Vass told the Washington Post back then.

Vass went to work for the state, and earned numerous awards.  He thought the bad times were finally behind him.

 Then, in the summer of 2004, Vass was accused of being involved in a stabbing.  And because the state of Maryland still had not expunged his record, Vass was held in jail without bail for a year until he was tried.  And acquitted.

“This has been going on for years, and I’m tired of it,” Vass says. “Why keep holding it over me and using it against me?”

Life After Exoneration
Truth in Justice