State Attorney General poised to tackle Tankleff case

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7:15 PM EDT, June 29, 2008
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Monday is the day that lawyers from Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's office may tell a Suffolk judge how they will proceed in the case against Martin Tankleff, the former Belle Terre man whose conviction in the 1988 murders of his parents was overturned in December.

Cuomo's office has twice postponed deciding whether to drop charges against Tankleff, who is still indicted in the Sept. 7 killings in the family's home, or to proceed with a fresh prosecution against him.

But both sides agreed earlier this month to a postponement until today to give attorneys time to review new results of DNA tests related to the case.

Investigators have been interviewing witnesses and gathering evidence to help finally put to rest one of Long Island's most infamous murder cases. But just what Cuomo's team will do remains a mystery even to people close to the case.

"I don't know what's going to happen," said Bruce Barket, the Garden City attorney who has represented Tankleff in his successful bid to get his conviction overturned.

Officials at Cuomo's office could not be reached for comment.

Tankleff, 36, was convicted in 1990 of the slayings of Arlene and Seymour Tankleff, and he spent almost half his life in prison. But a state appellate panel threw out the conviction based mainly on new evidence that Tankleff's investigator, Jay Salpeter of Great Neck, had amassed.

That evidence linked other people, including a business partner of Seymour Tankleff, to the crime.

Salpeter, Barket and attorney Barry Pollack of Washington have said that Jerry Steuerman, the business partner -- who owed Seymour Tankleff about $500,000 -- enlisted Joseph Creedon and Peter Kent, both of Selden, to kill the couple.

Each of those men has denied a role in the crimes, though, and Suffolk police and prosecutors never considered them suspects.

The attorney general's office's options include prosecuting others for the deaths of Tankleff's parents.

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