He was facing 20 years in prison for a crime he says he never did.
The jury believed him and found him not guilty. Now, Bill Bastuk of Irondequoit is the driving force behind a commission to hold prosecutors accountable.
Messenger Post's news partner, News10NBC's Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean: "What was the first night in jail like for you?"
Bill Bastuk, founder of It Could Happen To You: "It was living hell, okay?"
It was 2008.
Bastuk still has the newspapers that tracked his arrest and trial. The day before he turned himself into police, his son graduated the 8th grade.
Bastuk: "And I sat up front because I wanted to be as close to him as possible. And I was literally shaking. And what was going through my mind was, am I ever going to see my son play a high school football game? Will I be around this coming Christmas to spend Christmas with him?
Twelve months later, Bastuk was found not guilty and News10NBC was with him outside court.
"I had confidence every step of the way that I was not guilty," Bastuk said, surrounded by his wife and son in May 2009 at the Hall of Justice.
Bastuk says, at that moment, he decided to take on justice reform. He started an organization called, It Could Happen to You.
A decade later, his fight helped create the New York State Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct.
It's modeled after the commission that investigated and then removed Rochester City Court Judge Leticia Astacio.
For prosecutors, it'll be the first of it's kind in the country.
Bastuk: "It'll have a deterrent effect. It'll prevent wrongful convictions. It will prevent wrongful prosecutions."
The University of Michigan tracks the number of convictions that get overturned. Since 1989, New York State has 268, second only to Texas.
On the other hand, of the 511 criminal convictions appealed in western New York last year, 450 or 88 percent were upheld.
That's the highest rate in the state.
Criminal convictions appealed in western New York by News10NBC on Scribd.
When we first reported on the commission for you, News10NBC spoke to Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley.
She wrote a letter to Governor Cuomo asking him not to sign the legislation that created the commission, saying there's already a system in place.
Brean: "What's wrong with having an organization that holds people with power accountable, like prosecutors who try to put people in prison?"
Sandra Doorley, Monroe County District Attorney: "Right, there is such an authority. Every single department, there are four departments within the state. We have the Attorney Grievance Committee."
New York State lawmakers are still working out some constitutional concerns about the commission. Bastuk says there's going to be a vote in the state Legislature in January, a budget of $3 to $5 million and then a start date of April 1.
Bill Bastuk spent one night in jail.