New York Post
February 18, 2000


SOBBING VOLPE SAYS SCHWARZ WAS NOWHERE NEAR LOUIMA

By MAGGIE HABERMAN

Thomas Wiese
OUT IN THE COLD:
Thomas Wiese leaves court yesterday after hearing Volpe name him as the officer who didn't lift a finger to protect Louima.
- NYP: D. Halasy
   

A contrite Justin Volpe told a hushed courtroom yesterday that convicted cop Charles Schwarz wasn't in the bathroom during the Abner Louima attack -- but Officer Thomas Wiese was present the whole time.

"When I walked into the bathroom with Mr. Louima, Officer Wiese was there," the confessed sodomy cop testified at the Louima conspiracy trial -- the first time he's ever testified about his brutal Aug. 9, 1997, attack in the 70th Precinct station house.

"I observed him while I punched Abner Louima, and after I finished assaulting Mr. Louima with the stick, Mr. Wiese was still in the same spot," said the husky-voiced Volpe, who choked up at times during 21/2 hours of testimony that contradicts Wiese's account.

"I never saw Schwarz in the bathroom at any time," said Volpe, who made steady eye contact with jurors throughout his testimony. He said Wiese never laid a hand on Louima -- either to hurt him or to come to his aid.

"He never touched Louima. I'm the man that assaulted Louima."

Federal prosecutors suggested Volpe was covering for Schwarz -- and trying to get revenge on Wiese for naming Volpe as Louima's attacker to investigators.

But the 27-year-old Volpe, who's serving 30 years in prison, told Schwarz's lawyer, Ronald Fischetti, that he was testifying because he wants "to do that time with a clear mind, with a clear conscience."

"Part of me reclaiming my life is to tell the truth about what happened that night because ... I can't live with myself and do my time in peace by knowing that another man is paying for the crimes that I did.

"It has nothing to do with friendship," he said, saying he barely knew Schwarz. "It just has to do with doing what's right in my heart."

Volpe's surprising testimony in Brooklyn federal court conflicts with Wiese's account to investigators that he walked into the bathroom to find Volpe kneeling over Louima alone after the attack, and didn't realize what was going on.

Volpe's testimony did nothing to sway the Louima relatives who were in the courtroom.

Samuel Nicolas, Louima's cousin and family spokesman, said: "Mr. Volpe doesn't have any credibility with this family. It's obvious he had been lying for 21/2 years. It's obvious he's still lying. He's protecting the other officers."

Schwarz, Wiese and Officer Thomas Bruder are charged with covering up for Schwarz, who was convicted last year of holding Louima down while Volpe shoved a broken broomstick up his rectum.

Wiese's lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, opted not to grill Volpe -- which avoided chipping at the confessed torturer's credibility, and left it up to federal prosecutors to discredit his testimony.

"The only issue in this case is whether Charles Schwarz was in the bathroom, and the defendants conspired" to keep his name out of it, he said. "In that regard, I had nothing to ask Justin Volpe."

Volpe, the first defense witness, never strayed from his story or lost his cool during a nearly two-hour barrage of questions from Assistant U.S. Attorney Lauren Resnick.