Centurion Ministries was founded in 1983 by Jim McCloskey as a result of his investigation on behalf of a prisoner, Jorge De Los Santos.
McCloskey learned of Mr. De Los Santos in 1980 while a seminary student at Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey. McCloskey used his own funds to investigate De Los Santos' claim of innocence. He located the chief witness against De Los Santos, who recanted his false trial testimony. McCloskey then hired Paul Casteleiro, a Hoboken lawyer, to write the writ to bring De Los Santos' case back into court. A U.S. District Court judge overturned the conviction and in 1983 De Los Santos was freed.
Centurion is the first organization to investigate cases of wrongful convictions in the US and Canada. In 1987, California businesswoman, Kate Germond, joined McCloskey and together they built an organization that has secured the release of 53 (as of 12/11/2013) wrongly convicted men and women from all across the United States and Canada.
McCloskey retired in May 2015 and Germond is now the Executive Director of Centurion. Centurion continues to seek exoneration of wrongly convicted people through a thorough field investigation.
Centurion Ministries undergoes a formal process to help prove those wrongfully convicted are innocent.Case Research: CM thoroughly studies the entire written record of the case.
Field Investigation: CM conducts a field investigation in order to obtain new evidence that can help overturn the case.
Trial: CM hires experienced attorneys and expert witnesses to overturn the case in court.
Newark, NJ. Convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the 1975 murder of a Newark, NJ used-car salesman, Jorge De Los Santos spent almost nine years in prison before being freed in July, 1983, by former US District Court Judge Frederick B. Lacey. The judge said testimony from a jailhouse witness that convicted De Los Santos "reeked of perjury" and that the prosecutor knew it. Centurion's investigation yielded the new evidence that freed De Los Santos."
Tyler, TX. "In November, 1997, Kerry Max Cook was freed after spending nearly 20 years on death row for a murder in which he had no involvement. This was the crowning moment of a grueling seven-year effort by Centurion Ministries on Cook's behalf. Texas' highest court threw out the conviction and ruled that the state's "illicit manipulation of the evidence permeated the entire investigation of the murder", and that the state "gained a conviction based on fraud and ignored its own duty to seek the truth""
Saskatoon, Canada. An order of the Canadian Supreme Court freed David Milgaard on April 16, 1992 after 23 years of imprisonment. Centurion's two-year investigation of the rape/murder case established the identity of the real killer. The Supreme Court recognized that "the continued conviction of Milgaard amounts to a miscarriage of justice" Then, a 1997 DNA testing of physical evidence confirmed Milgaard's innocence and resulted in the arrest of the actual killer
Los Angeles, CA. In the late 1960's, Geronimo Pratt was the leader of the Los Angeles Black Panther Party. In 1972, Pratt was convicted of a 1968 murder on a Santa Monica, CA, tennis court. After 27 years of imprisonment and many denials of habeas corpus petitions, Pratt was granted a new trial and then freed in June 1997 by Orange County Superior Court Judge Everett Dickey. After conducting an extensive evidentiary hearing, Judge Dickey ruled that the state's primary witness was in fact an FBI, LAPD, and LADA informant, who had significantly lied against Pratt at trial. This culminated a four-year effort by Centurion on Pratt's behalf."
St. Louis, Mo. Based primarily on the alleged eyewitness account by a criminal informant for the St. Louis Police, Darryl Burton spent 24 years confined in Missouri prisons for the 1984 fatal shooting of Donald Bell at an Amoco gas station. The cashier at the gas station at the time of the shooting testified at a 2007 post conviction hearing that she had told the police they had the wrong man. She stated that shooter was light complected while Burton is very dark skinned.
Freeing Burton in August 2008, the Cole County judge found that the cashier's certainty that Mr. Burton was not the killer to be "clear, credible, and powerful." The judge also ruled that the informant's extensive criminal history was kept from the defense; had the jury known of it, it would have provided "persuasive evidence of the defendant's innocence."
Germond joined Centurion in January 1987 after reading a New York Times article about McCloskey's third exoneration. Prior to that, she was a businesswoman and community activist in Mendocino, California. In addition to performing in-the-field investigations of her own cases, Germond oversees the Case Development Manager.
Paul Casteleiro, Legal Director
Casteleiro has been involved with the exoneration of many of Centurion's clients. Until September 2014, he was a single shop criminal defense lawyer working out of Hoboken NJ.
W. James Cousins, Attorney
Cousins has worked with Centurion for 15 years. His most notable case was that of Richard Lapointe, a mentally challenged Connecticut man who was convicted of murder. In 2015, the Connecticut Supreme Court ordered a new trial for Lapointe and later that year all charges were dismissed. Cousins has also worked on a number of other cases with Centurion.
Hired in January 2012, Maimon is Centurion's full-time investigator. Maimon worked for 12 years as a journalist before joining Centurion in January 2012. While with the Louisville Courier-Journal, he contributed to a series of stories about Kentucky's criminal justice system that was a finalist for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize in Public Service. As an investigative reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Maimon received a Silver Gavel Award from the American Bar Association. He is a Philadelphia native and a graduate of Brown University.
James C. McCloskey
McCloskey was raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia and is a 1964 graduate of Bucknell University. After three years as a US Navy officer in Japan and Vietnam, he spent 13 years in business, primarily as an executive for two different international management consulting firms, one in Tokyo and the other, The Hay Group, in Philadelphia. He left the business world for the ministry in 1979. Subsequent to earning a Masters of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary, he officially founded Centurion in 1983. However, McCloskey actually began the work of Centurion Ministries in 1980 when he took a one year leave of absence from his seminary studies to investigate the De Los Santos case.
Paul Henderson, a former investigative reporter for the Seattle Times, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1982 for a series of articles that vindicated a man who had been falsely convicted of rape. In 1985, he became a private investigator and worked successfully since 1988 on a number of Centurion Ministries cases. In 1996, Henderson became a full-time staff investigator for Centurion . Paul lives in Seattle, Washington."Grisham awed by work of Centurion Ministries to free wrongly convicted inmates" The Trenton Times, 2010
"The Exonerator" Miller-McCune, 2010
"He helps innocent prisoners win their freedom" Christian Science Monitor, 2009
"Finding Truth That May Set Someone Free" US1, 2009
"Working to Save Innocent Souls" The Washington Post, 2008
"McCloskey labors to exonerate innocent prisoners" The Star Ledger, 2008
"Miracle Worker" American Way Magazine, 2006