Board of Directors

absolutelyinnocent_zulay

Zulay Velazquez
Wrongful Conviction Activist
President and Co-founder

Zulay Velazquez is a wrongful conviction activist. Her passion for the issue of wrongful convictions stems from her marriage to Jon-Adrian Velazquez (http://www.freejonadrianvelazquez.org/) and is currently fighting to prove his innocence. Though they are no longer together, Zulay decided to continue her activism for this important cause. She started her work in February 2012 and has since organized awareness marches, supported exonerees in court and attended panel discussions, homecomings, documentary screenings and speaking engagements. She also currently has an active caseload of families and advocates she works with on a continual basis.

absolutelyinnocent_shabaka

Shabaka Shakur, Exoneree
Wrongful Conviction Activist
Treasurer and Co-founder

Shabaka Shakur is an exonoree who served 27 and 1/2 years in the New York State maximum security prison system for a double homicide he did not commit. During that time Shabaka was able to obtain a college degree and took legal classes to better understand the law. He obtained a job in the prison law library as a law clerk and after numerous years of litigating on his own behalf, was able to re-open his case for review. With the assistance of renowned attorneys, Ronald L. Kuby and Leah Busby, Shabaka’s case was overturned and the charges dismissed and in 2015 Shabaka Shakur was finally freed. Once freed, Shabaka began working as a paralegal at a law firm and set his mind to helping others who have also been wrongfully convicted. Establishing Absolutely Innocent, Inc. was the realization of Shabaka’s dream to fight against the injustice of wrongful convictions.

absolutelyinnocent_marty

Marty Tankleff, Exoneree
Paralegal, NYS Exoneree, Public Speaker & Vice-President of Actually Innocent

Weeks after his release in December 2007, after being wrongly incarcerated for 6,338 days, he enrolled at Hofstra University where he received a bachelor degree in Sociology. Following Hofstra, Marty enrolled at Touro Law School and obtained a juris doctor degree in 2014. While at Touro he helped establish the Wrongful Conviction Externship program that places Touro students in law firms working on wrongful conviction cases. Currently, he is studying for the New York State Bar Exam and looks forward to being one of the few exoneree’s to become a practicing attorney in the United States.

From the time of his release, he has been a zealous and vocal advocate for those who have been wrongly convicted. He testified before the New York State Senate and New York State Assembly regarding wrongful convictions with the goal of making electronic recording of interviews and interrogations mandatory in New York state.

He regularly speaks at colleges, universities and high schools. He has lectured at the NYPD training academy and recently spoke at former Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer’s criminal justice college classes. He was the keynote speaker at the Nassau County Bar Association, the New York State Defenders Association and has spoken at Cardozo Law School, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Nassau Community College, Touro Law School, Williams college, and several others. He has appeared on several major television stations and radio shows, such as CBS 48 Hours, American Justice with Bill Kurtis, ABC, WPIX, Channel 55, News 12, NBC, WBAI, WNYC, NY1, and others.

Until recently, when he began studying for the bar exam, Marty worked for several different Nassau County law firms and was a court appointed death penalty paralegal as well.

absolutelyinnocent_anthony

Anthony Ortiz, Exoneree
Wrongful Conviction Activist
Secretary

Anthony Ortiz is an exoneree who served 20 years in the New York State maximum security prison system wrongfully accused, tried, and convicted of two counts of murder and attempted murder in a drive-by shooting.

Anthony did not come to trial for nearly three years. During that time, Ortiz was slashed with a razor by another inmate at Rikers Island prison. He required more than 130 stitches. In 2009, after numerous setbacks and denials of appeal and post-conviction motions, the N.Y. Court of Appeals finally reversed the conviction.

He is currently actively engaged and committed to criminal justice reform work and advocacy with Absolutely Innocent and other groups who work towards improving the criminal justice system through education and reform with the goal of achieving a system that implements the kind of safeguards that will help prevent other wrongful convictions. Anthony is also a partner in a number of businesses, among them a nightclub, a restaurant, and a printing company.