Fredric Dannen is a journalist and author with a specialty in criminal justice. He has been a staff writer for the New Yorker and Vanity Fair.
In 1990, Hit Men, his book about the American music industry and the influence of organized crime, spent a month on the New York Times bestseller list. Billboard awarded it second place in its list of “The 100 Greatest Music Books of All Time.” One of Dannen’s Vanity Fair articles prompted the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to rebuke the U.S. Justice Dept. for fraudulently withholding exculpatory evidence in the case of Cleveland auto worker John Demjanjuk, who was extradited, wrongly convicted, and sentenced to hang in Israel as the Nazi war-criminal “Ivan the Terrible.” He secured the only interview given by Los Angeles police chief Daryl Gates on the heels of the infamous Rodney King beating, and the only interview ever given by crime boss Lorenzo Nichols, the crack kingpin of New York City.
While conducting research for a forthcoming book, Dannen uncovered lost evidence in the case of Calvin Washington, a Texan wrongly convicted of homicide. As the direct result of Dannen’s efforts, Calvin Washington won a full pardon for innocence, the first ever granted by Texas governor Rick Perry under the state’s DNA statute.