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#2745: Coverup of assault in Brooklyn stationhouse (fwd)




From:nozier@tradewind.net

Coverup of assault  in Brooklyn stationhouse 
By MIKE CLAFFEY, BOB LIFF and HELEN PETERSON  
 Daily News Staff Writers  March 7 2000

Emotions exploded in a Brooklyn courtroom yesterday as  ex-cop Charles
Schwarz and two other officers were  found guilty of trying to cover up
Schwarz's role in the Abner Louima sodomy attack.Gasps and cries filled
the packed courtroom  and the three  cops stared ahead and gaped in
apparent disbelief  as the jury forewoman announced that each officer
had been found guilty of conspiring to obstruct justice.               
"This is a travesty," said Officer Thomas Bruder, his mother        
sobbing, after hearing the verdict. "There's no justice in this
country."While being led away by U.S. marshals, Schwarz swung his  fist
in the air. His cries and curses filtered into the courtroom."They
convicted me twice," he could be heard screaming.Schwarz's attorney
Ronald Fischetti raced to request a suicide watch for the former cop.
Bruder and Officer Thomas Wiese were fired from the NYPD hours after the
jury found them  guilty. The verdict after four days of deliberations in
Brooklyn  Federal Court marked the end of the second criminal trial    
stemming from the vicious assault in the bathroom of Brooklyn's 70th
Precinct stationhouse  a crime whose stark brutality and racial
overtones roiled the city. Louima was not in court, but his brother,
Jonas, lauded the verdict: "Abner has always had faith in our system of
justice. The verdict today reinforces that faith."Still, those close to
the victim said the victory was tinged by  the crime's lingering horror.

"We are not going to be opening any champagne bottles," said a cousin,
Samuel Nicolas. "A man was brutally sodomized, he  spent 64 days in the
hospital, had to undergo three surgeries  and is still recuperating."  
Schwarz was previously convicted of holding Louima down while then-cop
Justin Volpe sodomized the Haitian immigrant with a stick.Schwarz has
been battling to have that verdict overturned and hoped an acquittal on
the federal conspiracy charges would bolster his chances. He contends he
was outside in his patrol car as the attack unfolded.  Bruder and Wiese,
each free on $100,000 bail, and Schwarz's wife, Andra, were met by a sea
of support as they left court. "You tell the truth, and this is what
happens," Bruder said, visibly enraged. "I'll be fine. Nobody's stronger
than me. I'm stronger than anyone in this building."  Andra Schwarz 
who has become a symbol of her husband's fight for freedom  said the
verdict would not discourage her. "It's not over, it's not over," she
said while embracing her  mother-in-law. Her husband, already facing
life behind bars,now faces another five-year sentence on the conspiracy
 charge. Bruder and Wiese also face five-year sentences.Lawyers for the
three cops said they would appeal.The jury of six blacks, one Hispanic
and five whites deliberated for 24 hours over four days. Prosecutors
offered evidence of dozens of phone calls between the three cops in the
aftermath of the Aug. 9, 1997,assault, arguing they were concocting a
cover story to protect Schwarz. Defense lawyers said the cops were just
comforting one another. On Friday afternoon, the jurors asked for the
last piece of  evidence for their deliberations: readbacks of statements
 Wiese and Bruder made to investigators in which both said Schwarz was
not in the bathroom during the assault.Wiese told Internal Affairs cops
that he walked into the bathroom after the assault and didn't realize
what had  happened. His statement conflicted with testimony from Volpe,
who appeared for the defense and said Wiese was in the bathroom  but did
nothing to help him or to stop the attack.A $155 million lawsuit filed
by Louima against the cops and the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association
has been on hold because of the criminal case but is expected to get
underway  in the next few weeks. Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch
said, "the verdicts  today should send a message that within the Police
  Department there is no greater betrayal of the badge, and of the
brotherhood, than to ensnare a fellow officer in a web of lies and
deceit."