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#2505: Both sides rest after Schwarz insists he wasn't involved in Louima attack (fwd)


Thursday February 24 10:29 AM EST 
 Both sides rest after Schwarz insists he wasn't involved in Louima
attack_____ By Bryan Robinson, Court TV

 BROOKLYN, N.Y. (Court TV) In over two hours of cross-examination
Wednesday, Charles Schwarz, convicted last year for his alleged role in
Abner Louima's sodomy, continued to insist that he had nothing to do
with the attack on the Haitian immigrant. After Schwarz's testimony
concluded, both the defense and prosecution decided to rest,
 setting up closing arguments for next week.  Along with Thomas Bruder
and Thomas Wiese, Schwarz is now on trial for obstruction of justice.
Federal prosecutors believe Bruder, Wiese and Schwarz lied about their
knowledge of Louima's beating in the two years after the Haitian
immigrant's sodomy.  According to federal prosecutors, Bruder and Wiese
lied to investigators in an attempt to protect Schwarz. Schwarz
 was accused and convicted of standing guard at a bathroom door and
holding Louima down while his partner Justin Volpe sodomized him with a
broken wooden stick. Bruder and Wiese were accused of beating Louima on
the way to the 70th Precinct on Aug. 7, 1997 but were acquitted of the
charges at trial in June. Schwarz, however, was convicted of civil
rights violations and conspiracy.  Schwarz spoke out for the first time
on the attack when he took the stand Tuesday. He insisted he was not
even in the 70th Precinct stationhouse when the attack occurred. Schwarz
claimed he was outside searching his patrol car for any weapons that
prisoners may have hidden in the backseat or underneath the front seats
during transportation.  When Schwarz returned to the stand Wednesday for
cross-examination by federal prosecutors, he emphatically repeated his
claims, insisting that he wasn't involved in the attack. 
 "I was never in that bathroom," Schwarz said. 
 Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan Vinegrad suggested to Schwarz that he may
have been angry at Louima because he thought he punched him outside a
Brooklyn nightclub. [Louima was arrested by Schwarz and Volpe during a
fight outside a Brooklyn nightclub. It was later revealed that Louima
had not punched anyone.] At first, Schwarz said he didn't know what
Vinegrad meant by angry. However, he then conceded that he may have been
angry, saying, "I don't think anybody likes to get punched in the head."
 Still, on redirect by his lawyer Ron Fischetti, Schwarz insisted he was
not angry enough to attack Louima.  Schwarz also was confronted over
several phone conversations he had with other officers in the days after
the attack. The defendant insisted he did not discuss the details of the
attack with other officers and never asked anyone to concoct a story on
his behalf.  Schwarz told jurors Tuesday that he brought Louima to the
front desk of the 70th Precinct and left him there after searching him.
He denied bringing Louima to the rear of the stationhouse [the location
of the bathroom]. When Schwarz's attorney Ron Fischetti asked who
brought Louima to the rear of the stationhouse, Schwarz said he thought
 it was Wiese.  Last week, Volpe testified that Wiese was in the
bathroom and saw him sodomize Louima. According to Volpe, Wiese stood by
and watched the attack and did nothing to stop it. [Wiese has claimed
that he walked in the 70th Precinct bathroom after the attack and did
not realize what had happened.] Volpe, who pleaded guilty during the
 civil rights trial last year and is currently serving a 30-year
sentence, told the jury that he was testifying because Schwarz was
wrongfully convicted.  Louima himself has never been able to decisively
identify Schwarz as one of his attackers in the bathroom. Louima
 only said during the criminal civil rights trial that the attacker
resembled the driver of the car that took him to the 70th
 Precinct. Records show that the driver of that car was Schwarz. 
 Court is in recess for the rest of the week. Closing arguments are
expected Monday. If convicted of the obstruction charges, Schwarz,
Bruder and Wiese could each face five years in prison.