AKRON, Ohio-- A former police captain has filed a federal lawsuit claiming he was framed for murder.
Douglas Prade, 67, was convicted in 1998 for the murder of his wife, Dr. Margo Prade.
Dr. Prade was found shot to death inside her van behind her medical office building in November 1997.
Her husband was given a life sentence but after serving fifteen years of that sentence he was released in January 2013 after an Akron judge exonerated him based on new DNA evidence.
He is now suing the City of Akron, numerous current and former police officers as well as expert witnesses as defendants claiming they framed him.
Prade's suit claims he was 'wrongfully convicted of her murder. And, in the ultimate irony, officers in the very police department that Douglas Prade had dedicated his career to serving, participated in framing him for a crime he did not commit. All the while, Dr. Prade's true killer remains at large.'
He claims it was 'misconduct by Mr. Prade's fellow officers and those working in concert with them that led to his wrongful conviction. That misconduct included but was not limited to witness manipulation, fabrication, destruction, and suppression of evidence, and perjury.'
Akron Police Union President Paul Hlynsky knew Prade and many of the officers named in the suit and finds the accusations difficult to believe.
"Doug was my shift commander for a while and I liked him but there's no way I could refute this investigation, absolutely no way," said Hlynsky.
Among the current and former officers named in the suit is Dr. Mary Myers, former head of the Akron Police Department's Homicide Unit, now a professor at the University of Akron who, following Prade's release from prison, told FOX 8 News that the investigation was a "constant, overwhelming investigation."
"I counted over 10,000 man hours, personnel hours on this case. I've never seen that done on another homicide case in Akron, that intense," said Myers, adding, "We went in all kinds of directions and in each case it lead us to a dead end and we came back and kept investigating and the path lead to Doug."
Hlynsky said the department has been vigilant about investigating any alleged misconduct by its own officers.
"Doug wasn't the only one that was investigated. We have had a series of officers that were arrested for very serious offenses and the investigations were thorough. They were unpleasant. They didn't make anybody feel good. There was no joy when Doug Prade got convicted, but the evidence showed that he was guilty and I stand behind the investigation," said Hlynsky.
Prade's Chicago attorneys did not return phone calls from FOX 8 News on Wednesday.
Although Prade is a free man, his legal troubles may not be over.
The ruling to free him is being appealed by the Summit County Prosecutor's Office, which is awaiting a ruling from the Ninth District Court of Appeals.
The court could order a new trial at which the same people he is now suing could once again be called as witnesses.
Current Akron Police Chief James Nice also finds the accusations hard to justify. "I have worked with well over 100 police departments in my 29-year career working in Los Angeles, with the FBI. We investigated public corruption, police corruption. I have been involved in many cases of police corruption and I can tell you that the Akron Police Department is the cleanest department I have ever seen," said Nice.
"I think it would be so highly unlikely; it would be like hitting the lottery, the one in a gazillion million, to get that many people, twenty-some people from different ranks from different departments from all over, to conspire together to go after one man and set him up and frame him. Each of these people not getting anything, with no motive. Nobody gets his job; nobody gets $10,000; nobody gets the insurance money," the chief added.
"There's no motive in that all of these people that have absolutely spectacular careers all got together and decided we are going to frame one of our captains is really, the probability is a gazillion to one that you could get that many people to do that," he concluded.