New York Post
February 17, 2000


LET THESE GOOD COPS GO HOME

By STEVE DUNLEAVY

I CARE not to argue with the wisdom of John F. Kennedy, but wouldn't it be grand, just even for today, if life was fair.

If it was, then Chuck Schwarz today would walk out of Brooklyn federal court into the arms of his beautiful wife, Andrea, a free man.

If life was fair, Justin Volpe would tell Judge Eugene Nickerson that Chuck Schwarz was as guilty in the Abner Louima case as Donald Duck.

If life was fair, Nickerson would draw on decades of wisdom deciding men's fate and say: "Go home, son."

If life was fair, Al Sharpton would not see it as a rebuke to his Oscar nomination and say: "Fair play, there is a guilty man paying for his sins and I welcome that an innocent man is free."

Indeed, if life was fair, four dedicated cops standing trial in Albany, charged with the murder Amadou Diallo, would return to serving the public.

But John F. Kennedy was right when he said: "Life is unfair."

In the Abner Louima case, prosecutor Alan Vinegrad knows Chuck Schwarz is innocent.

Vinegrad is not a dumb man. Dummies don't pass the bar exam and that's what makes this case both a venal and cardinal sin.

I have believed in Schwarz's innocence all along.

Vinegrad knows it, Nickerson knows it, Volpe knows it, his lawyer, Marvyn Kornberg, has screamed it all along and Chuck's former attorney, Stephen Worth, knows it and, at the bottom of his well-cholesteroled heart, Al Sharpton knows it.

And yet here in the Empire State not the gulags of Russia, the killing fields of Bosnia, the tombs of China, nor the torture chambers of Iran an innocent man rots in a steel cage.

How can decent people sleep knowing that Chuck Schwarz is incarcerated for something he did not do?

Let me share a little secret. Two weeks after being arrested, Justin Volpe, the son of a great cop, told a close friend on Long Island what happened that terrible morning at 70th Precinct station house in Brooklyn.

"He came to me and his father, Robert Volpe, was there and at a certain time his father said he better leave," said this very special source.

"Justin admitted the whole nine yards and he said that Chuck Schwarz had nothing to do with it."

Justin Volpe did not tell this to his investigator, Les Levine, he did not tell it to his lawyer, Marvyn Kornberg, and he did not tell it to his father. But he told it to my source.

He also told it at a later date to Nickerson and the Probation Department and anyone in earshot.

And yet Chuck Schwarz is in solitary confinement in the Metropolitan Correctional Center.

Go figure.

And there in Albany, four cops have demonstrated that murder was further from their minds on Feb. 4 last year than winning Lotto without a ticket.

Prosecutor Don Levin knows it, otherwise he wouldn't be making a such a fool of himself in cross-examination. Levin, like Vinegrad, is no dummy.

He just doesn't have a case. The difference between Vinegrad and Levin is that Levin wants the case to go away.

Vinegrad thinks a loss will forever impair his manhood and Nickerson has long stopped thinking at age 82, after years of heroic service.

Al Sharpton knows he has some pretty good jockeys in this case of abject racism, but he is too smart to ignore the fact he is betting wrong horses.

"If these cases turned around for the cops, I would never preach violence," he was telling me. "When I got stabbed in 1991, I preached healing and forgiveness for the man who stabbed me.

"I would do the same tomorrow if all these men were proven innocent."

If that is true, I will stop saying naughty things about Al Sharpton and take him to dinner. I am holding my breath in hope.