Wrongly Convicted Database Record


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John Baptist Arena





3 years

Years Imprisoned:


Year Crime:


Year Convicted:


Year Cleared:


U.S. State or Country of Crime:

New York - Federal Case

County or Region of Crime:


City of Crime:



Judicially Exonerated

Summary of Case:

"John Baptist Arena was co-defendant of Michelle Wentworth. On December 21, 1995 they were wrongly convicted after an 8-day trial of extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion in violation of the Hobbs Act. The charges were related to their attacks in 1994 on medical facilities in upstate New York that provided reproductive health services. After their conviction by a jury Arena was sentenced to 41 months in prison, Wentworth was sentenced to 37 months, and they were jointly and severally to pay restitution in the amount of $52,062.11. On June 7, 1999 the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed their convictions and sentences. Arena served 2-2/3 years in prison and Wentworth 2-1/2 years. They appealed but their convictions were affirmed by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on June 7, 1999. On February 26, 2003, after Wentworth and Arena had completed their sentences, the Supreme Court decided Scheidler v. Nat’l Org. for Women, Inc., 537 U.S. 393, 123 S.Ct. 1057, 154 L.Ed.2d 991 (2003), interpreting the Hobbs Act to require that the perpetrator obtain property from the victim rather than merely depriving the victim of a property right. Id. at 404–05. Wentworth and Arena then petitioned the District Court for a writ of error coram nobis to vacate and expunge their Hobbs Act convictions. The Government agreed that Scheidler had changed the definition of extortion under the Hobbs Act such that it no longer applied to Wentworth and Arena, and did not oppose their applications. On August 3, 2004, the Court issued an order vacating and expunging Wentworth and Arena's convictions for extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion under the Hobbs Act. The Court Clerk was ordered to return $1,300 in restitution to Arena and $1,200 to Wentworth. On May 3, 2006 Wentworth's motion for a certificate of innocence was denied. The denial prevented her from filing a compensation claim for her wrongful imprisonment with the U.S. Court of Claims. Wentworth appealed the denial to the U.S. 2nd Circuit Ct. of Appeals, which dismissed her appeal on August 25, 2008. Arena did not file a motion for a certificate fo innocence."

Conviction Caused By:

Innocence Proved By:

"On August 3, 2004, the U.S. District Court issued an order vacating and expunging Wentworth and Arena's convictions for extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion under the Hobbs Act."

Defendant Aided By:

Compensation Awarded:


Was Perpetrator Identified?

Age When Imprisoned:


Age When Released:





Information Source 1:

"Abortion Protesters' Convictions Dropped, The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY), August 10, 2004"

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Information Source 2:

"Pro-life Activist Bishop Edwin Conway Passes Away, By Joe Scheidler, Pro-Life Action League (http://prolifeaction.org), August 11, 2004"

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Information Source 3:

"USA v. John Arena and Michelle Wentworth, 180 F.3d 380 (2nd Cir. 1999)"

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Innocents Database Created and Maintained by Hans Sherrer innocents@forejustice.org

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