EXHIBIT A: The Hudson police interview of Quintin Cross, conducted on the afternoon of March 19th, 2012
News broke on December 10th of last year that a second grand jury had declined to press charges against Quintin Cross and Jamont McClendon in Hudson’s high-profiile City Hall burglary case. Since then, many have wondered: What caused the case against them to fall apart?
The pair had disappeared on the afternoon of March 19th, shortly after a first grand jury’s vote led to the issuance of warrants for their arrest. Though the burglary involved less than $100, the pungeant combination of a City Hall break-in, Cross’s felony plea for misusing a City credit card, and their sudden disappearance generated intense media interest and a widespread impression that the two had something to hide.
In early April, the Hudson police discovered McClendon camped out in a State Street house. Meanwhile, during his six-week disappearance Cross found a high-powered lawyer (with the help of Time & Space Limited’s Linda Mussmann) before eventually turning himself in.
While previously he pled guilty to a fourth degree grand larceny charge related to improper charges on a City of Hudson credit card, Cross has in this case insisted on his innocence, while also raising issues of social justice, race and fairness in the New York police and court systems. Cross is now heading up a new nonprofit organization called The Staley B. Keith Social Justice Center, named for another former Hudson alderman.
The collapse of the case raises many additional questions. Were the wrong two people accused, or did the pair skate on a legal technicality? If innocent, why did they flee? Does the City really have what it has termed an “open investigation” of the burglary, or does it have more of an interest in burying the matter? And, with another local election season in the offing, will the defunct case now live on as a political football, —tossed around in the Fall Mayor’s race, or used to reshape the future of the Hudson Police Department?
In the context of such lingering questions, this site has had on-again, off-again discussions over the past month with Quintin Cross about taping a live interview, possibly with the help of professional videographer Lance Wheeler.
While Cross has decided to hold off on such an interview for now, the former Hudson alderman has offered something potentially far more explosive and illuminating: Access to a large trove of documents and digital assets gathered by his defense in an effort to rebut charges that he burglarized City Hall.
This dossier provides a glimpse into both the planned strategy for defending Cross against the (now-dismissed) charges, and also into the materials obtained by his defense from the prosecution via the legal “discovery” process for a trial that eventually got called off. Taken together, these provide insight into why the high-profile case unexpectedly collapsed on the second go-round.
The video above is the first and arguably most crucial of those assets: A tape of the police interview of Cross which was led by the HPD’s John Funk on the afternoon of March 19th, 2012.
The burglary had been discovered early on the morning of March 19th, 2012. By early afternoon, City officials and Detective John Funk had already testified to a grand jury, wrapping up its proceedings around 2:30 pm. Around the same time, police records indicate that the HPD brought Cross in for a voluntary interview with Funk in the presence of Officer Filli.
The interview ended at 3:27 pm, according to the timestamp on the video, with Cross walking out of the station a free man. Just three minutes later, at 3:30 pm, the warrants for his and McClendon’s arrest hit the HPD dispatcher’s desk... at which point the pair disappeared. Three minutes sooner, and there might have been no disappearance.
This police interview became a key bone of contention in the now-cancelled trial, since it was not provided to the defense in a timely way as required by law. (District Attorney Paul Czajka has been generous in taking responsibility forthe omission, though the first responsibility lay with the HPD.)
The video has not been edited above except in two ways: (A) to remove two long and uninformative stretches when Cross just sitting and waiting, and (B) to bleep out the names of citizens mentioned by Funk in the course of the interview.
Legal briefs show that Funk’s mention of one such name had extraordinary value to Cross’s defense as so-called Brady material, a legal term referring to “exculpatory or impeaching information and evidence that is material to the guilt or innocence or to the punishment of a defendant.”
One can see how the content of the suppressed interview may have introduced reasonable doubt regarding the charges, since the same officer who testified to the first grand jury that he recognized Cross on the City Hall surveillance videotape, barely an hour later speculates about whether it’s a totally different Hudson resident. Perhaps this was intended as just an interrogator’s trick, but the value to a defense is immense.
Questioning Cross at length about whether he was responsible for the burglary, and trying various Law & Order-style gambits in an effort to induce him to confess, Funk leaves for a long time—then comes back and abruptly shows Cross stills from the City Hall videotape. The following conversation occurs:
FUNK: Does that look like anybody you know?
CROSS: I can’t see it.
FUNK: You can’t see it? What, did it shut off? ... You don’t know who that guy is? You don’t know who he is? Okay.
[CROSSTALK AS FUNK ACCIDENTALLY BUMPS INTO CROSS]
FUNK: ... I guess, I’m asking you to help me out on this then. Because, whoever did this... What do you think should happen to him? He broke into City Hall.
CROSS: That sucks.
FUNK: That’s stupid—
FUNK: That’s, that’s some, that’s, that’s minor league stuff. Uh... And you, you're definitely sure it wasn’t you. That ain’t you there?
FUNK: You know [MALE FIRST NAME]? You know [MALE FULL NAME]?
FUNK: [FEMALE FIRST NAME]’s boyfriend? Could that be him?
CROSS: Let me see?
FUNK: This guy right here. I know, I’m standing right on you... That guy definitely looks like Jamont. So I gotta find him, because I know he'll tell me if he was there. Don’t that look like Jamont?
CROSS: Is it in color?
FUNK: No, it's in night vision.
CROSS: Oh, yeah.
Funk at this point drops the question of who appears on the film, moving on other topics such as the possible need to interview Cross’s mother and sister about his whereabouts on the night before. Funk asks Cross to tell Jamont “to get his rear end over here” if he sees him, and the interview ends on a casual note. Only three minutes later, the HPD began actively looking for him.
Though Cross’s dossier includes extensive investigative materials provided to the defense, the materials provided show no indication that the other male mentioned by Funk was ever interrogated or sought by the HPD. While the name could be fictitious, a male of that same name (bleeped out above) does appear in Hudson voter registration rolls, and is roughly the same age as Cross.
In the first half of the video above, Officer Filli more deftly elicits information about Cross’s rumored impending trip to China, casually getting him to tell when and where his flight out of the country would leave—that Thursday, from Newark.
Other printed records provided by Cross reveal that the Hudson police over the next 72 hours was feverishly contacting airport officials to prevent him from leaving the country if he showed up for the flight. Filli also cleverly invents a way to get Cross to show him the bottom of his shoe, for reasons that become clear below.
Making the case to Cross that “videotape don’t lie,” Funk comes in and genially quizzes Cross. In the course of their sparring, Funk indicates that the police have gathered fingerprint, footprint and DNA evidence. Later, the results of such some of those tests were also withheld for a time from the defense, with their results appearing to have been inconclusive.
Talking expansively, Funk says that he has no animus toward Cross, and that he recognizes his role in the community, and that he knows “who he knows,” and that he is not interested in all that “bullshit” about the credit cards, Funk argues that if hypothetically Cross were guilty of the burglary, it would be in his best interest to confess up front.
Cross wisely does not take the bait, declining to give either a statement or a deposition before leaving.
As far as the provenance of the dossier: Cross indicates that his attorney Susan Tipograph was moving offices and sent it to him for his own safe-keeping. Notably, the stamp-plastered box in which the documents arrived from Tipograph in late December was addressed not to Cross, but to “Linda Mussman[n]” at Time & Space Limited, 434 Columbia Street. While there is no way of saying whether the file has been manipulted to influence this site’s reporting, the randomness of some of the material—such as the inclusion of one of Cross’s tax returns—suggests that it has been presented without much editing.
This site expects to report in further depth on other materials to which Cross has provided access over the next few days.