New York Daily News

March 26, 2002

Ex-Louima Cop Faces New Raps

Charged with perjury

Daily News Staff Writers

Prosecutors took another shot yesterday at freed ex-cop Charles Schwarz, slapping him with new charges of lying about the stationhouse torture of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima.

  Charles Schwarz

Schwarz, who already faced a new trial for his role in the attack, now will also face two counts of perjury stemming from his federal obstruction-of-justice trial.

A grand jury indicted Schwarz on charges he lied when he denied escorting Louima from the desk of the 70th Precinct stationhouse desk and again when he denied being in the bathroom with Louima.

"Having taken an oath that he would testify truthfully, [Schwarz] took the witness stand at a federal criminal trial and repeatedly lied," said Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Alan Vinegrad.

Schwarz, 36, faces a possible 10 years in prison if convicted of the new charges.

Prosecutors Hit

Defense lawyer Ronald Fischetti, who battled for months to win Schwarz's release from prison, said prosecutors are out to get the ex-cop at any cost.

"They are charging him with perjury for saying he is innocent," Fischetti said. "I have never seen anything like this before."

Schwarz refused to discuss the new charges as he carried a bag of groceries from his minivan to the door of his home on Staten Island. "I'm not allowed to comment," he said.

The alleged lies came at Schwarz's second trial, in which he was accused along with other cops of covering up Officer Justin Volpe's attack on Louima.

Officer Eric Turetzky, who was credited with breaking the Blue Wall of Silence in the racially charged case, testified Schwarz escorted the Haitian immigrant to the bathroom, where Volpe sodomized him with a stick.

But Schwarz insisted he handed Louima over to Volpe at the front desk of the Flatbush stationhouse, and stayed at the desk.

Jury Didn't Believe

He also denied being inside the bathroom, an account the jury rejected when it found him guilty. Volpe has testified that Officer Thomas Wiese, not Schwarz, was with him in the bathroom.

Louima said through his lawyer that he is ready to take the stand again against Schwarz. "He understands that he has to come to New York and testify," Sanford Rubenstein said.

The Rev. Al Sharpton called the latest charges against Schwarz a good sign that prosecutors are still taking the attack seriously. "The Blue Wall of Silence does not pass the test of perjury," Sharpton said.

But Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, called the indictment a "witch hunt."

Called 'Disgrace'

"It's a disgrace that Chuck Schwarz, who has already spent 33 months in prison for crimes he didn't commit, would be subjected to another vindictive prosecution by the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District," Lynch said.

A federal appeals court granted Schwarz a new trial on charges of violating Louima's civil rights by holding him down during the attack in August 1997. He was serving a 15-year prison sentence, but is now free on $1 million bail.

The court also threw out obstruction-of-justice convictions against Schwarz, as well as those of fellow Officers Wiese and Thomas Bruder.

Volpe's conviction was not affected by any of the legal tussles. He is serving 30 years in prison.

With Nancie Katz