Louima Cop Sentenced

More penalties are coming down in the trial of Abner Louima.

A former Brooklyn patrolman was sentenced Tuesday to more than 15 years in prison for helping torture the Haitian immigrant in a police station bathroom - one of the worst brutality cases in NYPD history.

The sentencing came after former officer Charles Schwarz delivered a vitriolic speech declaring his innocence. Schwarz then received an 188-month jail term - 15 years and eight months.

"But for Volpe's extraordinary brutality, it is unlikely Schwarz would now face a sentence for a sexual assault carried out with such force," said U.S. District Court Judge Eugene Nickerson. "... (Justin) Volpe and not Schwarz wielded the stick."

Two other ex-cops, Thomas Bruder and Thomas Wiese, will also be sentenced Tuesday for lying to the FBI about Schwarz's role in the 1997 assault on Louima in the 70th Precinct bathroom.

Schwarz, speaking just before his sentencing, accused prosecutors of presenting "twisted and distorted truth" at his trial.

"This case was about many things, but it was never about justice," he said angrily. "My life has been destroyed."

Prosecutors "silenced witnesses just as effectively as any organized crime family," he added in the defiant address.

The attack by white officers on a black prisoner touched off protests alleging widespread police abuse against minorities. It also triggered an ongoing Justice Department inquiry into whether the New York Police Department fosters brutality through lax discipline of wayward officers.

Schwarz, 34, was convicted last year of violating Louima's civil rights by holding him down on the bathroom floor while Volpe viciously sodomized the skinny, handcuffed victim with a broken broomstick.

At a second trial in March, a jury found Schwarz, Bruder and Wiese guilty of federal obstruction of justice charges a cover-up prosecutors said reflected a "blue wall of silence" code observed by some officers.

Volpe who is serving 30 years on his guilty plea admitted wanting to punish Louima because he mistakenly thought the victim had punched him as police broke up a brawl outside a Brooklyn nightclub.

Since the beginning, Schwarz has steadfastly maintained his innocence. At the second trial, the former Marine took the stand to tell jurors he was searching a patrol car for contraband at the time of the attack. Volpe also testified that Wiese, not Schwarz, was in the bathroom with him.

The defendant's family and the powerful Patrolmen's Benevolent Association had sought to rally support through a "Free Chuck Schwarz" campaign, claiming he was railroaded by overzealous prosecutors.

But taking the stand at both trials, Louima insisted the second assailant who put a foot in his mouth when he started to scream was the same officer who drove him to the stationhouse. Records show the driver was Schwarz.

Two officers working that morning testified that they spotted Schwarz leading Louima pants around his ankles toward the bathroom only moments before he was attacked.

Prosecutors also presented phone records and other evidence they said showed Schwarz, Wiese then a PBA delegate and Bruder conspired to concoct a story saying Wiese had interrupted the assault, but did not realize what Volpe had done.

The Louima cases' third and final trial ended last week with the conviction of another former officer, Francisco Rosario, for lying to investigators. He and his partner, Rolando Aleman, who pleaded guilty, are awaiting sentencing.

Louima, who suffered severe internal injuries, has sued the city, the PBA and several 70th Precinct officers for $155 million. No trial date for the civil case has been set.



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