Charges against a New York City electrician accused of selling a gun to an undercover agent three years ago were dropped Thursday after the man claimed that authorities had arrested the wrong man.
Wellington Clase took a selfie as he walked out of court free on Thursday after the Queens DA made the decision to dismiss all charges against him in a 2013 gun-buying case investigated by the NYPD and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
“Yo, yo, I’m so happy,” he told reporters outside the courtroom.
Clase was arrested after authorities tabbed him as the man seen in surveillance video selling an illegal handgun to an undercover ATF agent for $800 in 2013. Clase maintained that he wasn’t the man seen on video hawking the gun because he has a lazy eye and cleft chin, turning down plea deals and spending six months at Rikers Island.
But the case turned when his family hired a private investigator who obtained surveillance video of the gun deal. The PI found that the man in the video bore little resemblance to Clase.
“It took my investigator 30 seconds to realize I was innocent, so I don’t know how the courtroom could be so incompetent,” Clase said.
His attorney, John Scola said that the ATF and NYPD, which assisted in the gun buy and Clase’s arrest, spent too long going after the wrong suspect.
“They took 27 months to arrest the wrong guy, so for those 27 months at least that guy’s out there selling guns,” he said. “They got the wrong guy. Who knows where those guns are and who’s getting hurt by them now.”
Clase, 26, said he still doesn’t know why he was arrested for something he didn’t do. He said he plans to sue the city.
“I’m just glad it’s over,” he said.
An ATF spokesman said Thursday afternoon it is actively reviewing the case and it respects the DA's decision.