The Exoneration of William Haughey

On March 10, 2007, a fire broke out at Smaller’s Inn in Carmel, NY. One of the patrons at the inn that night was William Haughey, who along with other patrons, searched for the source of smoke from the fire. The owner of the inn, Anthony Porto, Jr. claimed that he had earlier cursed at Haughey, and believed Haughey to be responsible for the fire. Haughey was arrested and convicted of arson in 2008. While in prison, all of Haughey’s efforts to overturn his conviction at the state level failed, but he filed a federal motion to overturn his conviction in 2013 and also contacted the Deskovic Foundation.

The Deskovic Foundation decided to take Haughey on as a client, and the foundations’s subsequent investigation found that in contrast to testimony at trial, there was no actual evidence that Haughey had set the fire, and that the inn had previously had electrical problems and an electrical fire. These findings were confirmed by an arson investigator. 

The Deskovic Foundation approached the new district attorney of Putnam County, Robert V. Tendy with this evidence. District Attorney Tendy mounted his own internal investigation, including reviewing the evidence arson investigators and independent attorneys, and concluded that Haughey was in fact innocent. Mr. Tendy then joined in support of Mr. Haughey’s federal motion, stipulating: “It appears that the defendant has spent years in prison for helping to put out a fire, not start one.” 

As a result, on May 23, 2016, United States District Judge Hon. Vincent L. Briccetti ruled that William Haughey was in fact innocent of the crimes he had been convicted for and overturned his conviction. William Haughey spent 8 years and 4 months in prison for a crime he did not commit.



2008 Putnam Arson Conviction Tossed, Tuesday, May 24, 2016, USA Today

William Haughey’s Persistence Ends in Exoneration in Putnam ‘Arson’, Wednesday, May 25, 2016, The Journal News

Man exonerated in Smalley's Inn arson conviction, Wednesday, May 25th, 2016, lohud