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#2288: Lawyer: Cop Wouldn't Implicate Other (fwd)
Thursday February 10 7:59 PM ET
Lawyer: Cop Wouldn't Implicate Other
By RICHARD PYLE Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK (AP) - Federal prosecutors said Thursday that days before he
pleaded guilty to sodomizing a Haitian immigrant in a police station
bathroom, Officer Justin Volpe assured a lawyer he would ``say nothin'''
to implicate a fellow officer. In a letter to a federal judge,
prosecutors said they had witnesses ready to testify about the exchange
between Volpe and a lawyer for Charles Schwarz. The judge did not
immediately rule on whether to admit the evidence. Volpe and Schwarz
were on trial last May for violating Abner Louima's civil rights. Volpe
abruptly decided to plead guilty and was later sentenced to 30 years in
prison. Schwarz was convicted and faces a possible life sentence.
Schwarz, 34, and officers Thomas Bruder, 37, and Thomas Wiese, 34,
could also face up to five years in prison if convicted of conspiracy to
obstruct justice. According to the letter from Assistant U.S. Attorney
Alan Vinegrad, rumors of Volpe's decision to plead guilty were
circulating through the Brooklyn federal courthouse on May 20. During a
lunch recess, Schwarz's lawyer, Stephen Worth, ``confronted Volpe in the
lobby'' and asked a question. The letter continues:
``In response to Worth's apparent inquiry, Volpe responded in
substance: `Don't worry, man. I'm not going to say nothin'. Worth
thanked Volpe. Volpe and Worth then parted.'' Worth, defending another
officer in the Amadou Diallo murder trial in Albany, refused comment on
whether he had any such conversation with Volpe. ``They know where to
find me,'' he said. ``I'd be happy to respond to a subpoena.''
Five days after the alleged conversation, Volpe pleaded guilty to
sodomizing Louima with a broken broomstick. He said a second officer,
whom he did not name, took part. Then in December, Volpe said the second
officer was Wiese, and that he did not participate or interfere. In
moving for a new trial for Schwarz, Worth claimed that prosecutors
withheld from him their knowledge that Volpe would deny Schwarz's
presence in the bathroom. The prosecutors' letter suggests that Worth
knew of Volpe's intention from the officer himself. ``Volpe would have
had no reason to indicate to Schwarz's attorney his intent to `say
nothing' if Schwarz had not participated in the sexual assault of Mr.
Louima,'' the letter said. Marvyn Kornberg, who was Volpe's attorney,
described the letter as ``grasping at straws'' by the state.