New York Post
March 7, 2000


AN OUTRAGE PERPETRATED UPON THE INNOCENT

By STEVE DUNLEAVY

WHAT happened on the sixth floor in a so-called palace of justice called the Brooklyn Federal Courthouse yesterday was an abortion.

We had three cops who wouldn't spit on a sidewalk looking at more time in jail than mutts who use a revolving door for justice

Joe Puglissi, first vice president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, was saying that there was only one man guilty and he was in jail and his name is Justin Volpe.

I normally don't argue with a guy who knows more about the streets than I do, but I say there were many guilty parties yesterday:

A jury that needed their heads vacuum-cleaned. They sent these fine men up the river because they believed a series of telephone calls between three men being persecuted constituted conspiracy.

I have spoken many times to a friend of mine, a wiseguy called Johnny Lester, who is in for bank robbery and has been in for worse.

Am I a co-conspirator?

Andra Schwarz, wife of wrongly convicted cop Chuck Schwarz, told me she thinks police taped the calls and then failed to produce them because there was nothing incriminating there.

"When they heard nothing, they simply put into court that these boys actually talked to each other on the telephone," she said.

A once great judge called Eugene Nickerson, to whom I apologize for calling way past his prime. Twice, Nickerson instructed his court reporter to give a read-back to the jury.

That's what judges do. Except for one thing. Nickerson didn't notice the jury was not there. I mean, at the age of 82 and leaning heavily on a cane and having been ill, you don't expect him to be the sharpest knife in the drawer.

But we are dealing with men's lives here. He saw an empty jury box and didn't get it. At first, the court reporter was too much of a gent to remind him that there was only air in the jury box. Finally, he had to point out the apparently not-so-obvious.

The pall of a righteous case in Albany where "The Bronx Four" were cleared, hung over that jury like a racial sword of Damocles.

Nickerson told the jurors not to read, talk or discuss, the Louima case. Let's give them the benefit of the doubt.

But they had plenty of time to read about the fallout of the Amadou Diallo case including the comments of the dueling co-presidents named Bill and Hillary Clinton.

"I regret to say that I have felt that the Diallo trial, which was fair and honest, would have an effect on that jury which didn't make it fair," John Patten, lawyer for one of "The Bronx Four" told me even before the jury was in.

That little wimp prosecutor, Alan Vinegrad, who pulled every sleazy trick he could to railroad these cops.

On that sixth floor I saw a scene I would not like to see again. Doris Bruder, mother of Tommy Bruder in tears that shook like an earthquake: "They are the government and they won, they beat us. How can we beat the government?"

Son, Tommy: "Don't worry, Ma. We are just beginning this, don't cry."

Lorrie Wiese collapsing on hard marble floor and screaming: "My boy has never done anything wrong in his life."

Beleaguered son Tommy Wiese running to her prone body: "Ma, Ma, Ma! Get a nurse!"

Ronald Fischetti, Chuck Schwarz's lawyer, approaching his client's mother, Estelle: "Sorry. I will defend this case until I die."

Stuart London, Bruder's lawyer: "We will win it on appeal."

Joe Tacopina, Tommy Wiese's lawyer: "It's a ground ball. We will win this."

There is something terribly wrong when a guy like Alan Vine grad puts good men in prison for making telephone calls to each other.

Andra Schwarz, who looked like a Sphinx and kept talking about a future with her husband, was at the side of the Rev. Robert Moore.

"Every time Chuck hears the word liar aimed at him, the word sodomizer, it is like a physical stab in the heart,'' she said. ''There will be people watching him tonight and doctors are sedating him.

"But in the end, we are all going to be all right."