New York Post
March 1, 2000


SCHWARZ LAWYER TO JURY: THEY GOT 'WRONG GUY'

By MAGGIE HABERMAN and ANGELA C. ALLEN

Schwarz  
AWAITING HIS FATE: The jury will deliberate conspiracy charges against Charles Schwarz and two fellow officers in the second Louima trial after the judge instructs the panel today. - N.Y. Post: Rick Dembow  

Convicted torture cop Charles Schwarz's lawyer yesterday made an impassioned plea to the Abner Louima conspiracy-trial jury -- insisting there was no cover-up because prosecutors nabbed "the wrong guy."

Lawyer Ron Fischetti insisted in his closing statement that prosecutors relied on faulty witnesses and circumstantial evidence to nail Schwarz as the cop who held Louima down while Officer Justin Volpe sodomized him with a stick in the 70th Precinct station house bathroom.

"This whole town was exploding [with] the quest for the second man" just after the Aug. 9, 1997 assault, Fischetti said, his voice rising.

He said when Schwarz was arrested for the assault, "the die is cast, and they ain't gonna change their minds. And they haven't changed it for 21/2 years, and they've got the wrong guy."

Fischetti also pointed out holes in Louima's testimony. He insisted Volpe, who pleaded guilty to the attack, was telling the truth when he testified that Schwarz was never in the bathroom because he had nothing to gain by lying.

But a mocking Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan Vinegrad, in a rebuttal statement, pounced on Schwarz, saying he and Officers Thomas Bruder and Thomas Wiese gave conflicting accounts, and spent hours on the phone and holding a meeting in the station house basement so they could "get their stories straight."

Schwarz, who faces life in prison after his conviction last year, is charged with conspiring with Bruder and Wiese to thwart investigators and protect Schwarz.

Volpe testified Wiese was in the bathroom, but played no role in the attack. Wiese told investigators he walked in at the end of the assault and didn't know what had happened.

Ranging from scornful to sarcastic for more than two hours, Vinegrad blasted Volpe, claiming he acted like a "repentant little schoolboy" on the stand -- but insisted he was getting back at Wiese for naming him to authorities.

Volpe "may not have much to gain by [lying], but with 30 years in jail, he's got nothing much to lose by doing it, either," Vinegrad said.

Fischetti spent 90 minutes blasting the government's case, saying the slew of phone calls show nothing because there's no evidence about what was discussed.

He also called Louima a "perjurer" for lying to two state grand juries about his infamous "It's Giuliani time" claim, and for never being able to identify Schwarz.

He said Louima was the victim of a "heinous crime," but that "does not give him the right to make my client a victim, too -- for something he did not do."

Jurors will start deliberating after Judge Eugene Nickerson instructs them today.