How Huff, an 18-year veteran of the Inspector General’s Office and former corrections and police officer, became involved in Ronald Bower’s case is but one of many bizarre twists and turns that have come to define Bower’s hellish journey to the drab fortress-like confines of the penitentiaries dotting upstate New York.
Five years after Bower was convicted through trials for two of the Pattern #1/91 crimes—referred to as Incident A and Incident C in Goldberg’s many motions—and coming on the heels of a denial for an appeal, one of the NYS appellate court judges on the case began receiving what she described as harassing phone calls recorded on her office’s answering machine.
The caller mentioned Ronald Bower. So Huff, whose job it was to investigate such matters, called the prison he was then incarcerated in and requested Bower’s phone conversations be recorded, so he could compare his voice to that on the judge’s tapes.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t get that that cooperation,” Huff tells the Press. “They’d forgot the tape or the guy that was on duty didn’t get the message in time, or whatever. They never got a tape recording of his conversations. So I went down to the facility itself, and I interviewed Ronald Bower. And during the interview, he told me that, of course, he was innocent.”
It was a statement Huff had heard a thousand times before, he says. But Bower followed that up with telling Huff he had also been an informant for the FBI—something he hadn’t heard before, ever. Bower also explained that he thought he’d been set up by his ex-father-in-law, a former cop.
Huff made him a deal: if Bower would listen to the tape and tell him whose voice it was, he’d look into his case and “see what I can do.” The investigator figured it was Ronald himself who had made the calls, he’d admit it, and that’d be the end of it.
Instead, he laughs, “[Bower] listened to the tape and he said, ‘It’s my brother, Mister Huff.’ Which is unusual, but, you know, I said, ‘OK, I’ll see what I can do for you, Ronald.”
After contacting Ron’s brother, Steven [who tells the Press he’d use a “sock full of quarters” to call judges from pay phones on subway stations and various other places “to get somebody to listen”] and warning him to end the calls, Huff kept his side of the promise.
“I called down to the NYPD to the sex crimes section, which was in Queens,” he recalls. “I asked if there was a Detective Fogarty [now deceased]. He was the detective that had worked on the case and actually made the arrest. And I figured I’d hear it right from the horse’s mouth. I figured Fogarty’d come on and say, ‘The guy’s full of crap’ and that he’s lying.
Well, Fogarty wasn’t in, he’d retired, so I said, ‘Is there anybody there that worked on the case against this Ronald Bower?’
“Well, there was. A guy by the name of Gary Tepperman,” he continues. “So I said, ‘Let me talk to Detective Tepperman.’ I get Tepperman on the phone and I say, ‘This is Senior Officer Huff from the IG’s Office. I interviewed an inmate at Green Haven by the name of Ronald Bower, who keeps insisting he’s innocent for the crime of assault, rape.”
“Tepperman at the other end of the phone said, ‘I think he is innocent.’”
“Well, I almost fell out of my chair,” Huff tells the Press. “You don’t hear this from detectives,” he laughs. “Not to get the guys out of jail.”