Newsday
July 9, 2010

‘Sodomy’ Suit Against Cops Fails

‘Victim’ Liable for Legal Fees

By MARK TOOR

   
‘A message to con artists.’  

Michael Mineo lost the first time around, in February, when a jury acquitted a Police Officer he said had sodomized him with a retractable baton on a Prospect Park subway platform and two other officers he said had helped cover it up.

Last week, in a civil lawsuit stemming from the incident seeking $440 million, he lost really big: Not only did the jury award him no damages, U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein ordered him to pay the legal fees of three of the four cops he sued.

Deadlock on ‘Assault’ Cop

The jury deadlocked on Police Officer Richard Kern, who Mr. Mineo said committed the actual sodomy. Jurors could not decide whether Officer Kern had used excessive force. The officer will be retried, but not until the U.S. Attorney’s Office completes an investigation into whether a key piece of evidence—the hole in the back of Mr. Mineo’s boxer shorts—was tampered with.

Mr. Mineo’s lawyers said the NYPD had enlarged and reshaped the hole. During the criminal trial, lawyers for the accused Police Officers said Mr. Mineo may have fiddled with the hole himself.

Patrick J. Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said: “Today, the court sent a message to con artists like Michael Mineo throughout the city that these blatantly opportunistic lawsuits will not enrich them and will ultimately cost them money in court costs and legal fees. We are further pleased to see that the judge has set the wheels in motion for a possible criminal prosecution of this drug-using criminal for making false accusations against the police officers.”

The lawsuit targeted Police Officers Alex Cruz, Andrew Morales and Mr. Kern, who were acquitted of criminal charges, and a fourth officer, Noel Jugraj, who testified against the other three officers at their criminal trial. Officer Jugraj was working with Officer Kern when Mr. Mineo was detained and given a summons in October 2008 for smoking marijuana, but he testified he did not see any sodomy.