New York Post
March 7, 2000


Their Attorneys Vow to Appeal Until Doomsday


FREE ON BAIL: Thomas Bruder (above) and Thomas Wiese leave the courthouse yesterday after being convicted of conspiracy. - N.Y. Post: Helayne Seidman    

Defiant lawyers for Charles Schwarz and two other cops found guilty of conspiracy in the Abner Louima police torture case vowed to appeal the convictions "until doomsday."

"It ain't over," Schwarz's lawyer Ronald Fischetti said outside Brooklyn federal court yesterday, moments after jurors returned their stunning and somewhat unexpected verdict.

"We will make appeals from now until doomsday."

The lawyers' comments capped a tumultuous day in which a furious Charles Schwarz was led out of court cursing and pounding his fists after he and the others were convicted of concocting a cover story to save him from assault charges.

"They're f---ing liars," a seething Schwarz said, glaring at prosecutors after the verdicts against him and former Officers Thomas Bruder and Thomas Wiese were handed down.

"What the f--- did they do? What happened? What happened?"

The verdict brought gasps and sobs from the relatives and supporters of the cops, who looked stunned and gaped at the jurors.

Schwarz's wife, Andra, who fought back tears and sat stoically in court throughout the five-week trial, was stopped by U.S. marshals as she tried to rush to her husband.

"Two f---ing times getting convicted!" shouted Schwarz, who's already in custody on his conviction last year of restraining Louima while convicted sex-torturer Justin Volpe sodomized him. He also punched the wall after marshals took him off to a holding area.

Fischetti had Schwarz placed on suicide watch at the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center, where he's been awaiting sentencing from last year's verdict.

Joseph Tacopina and Stuart London, the lawyers for Wiese and Bruder, also said they'd appeal.

All but one of the 12 jurors looked away from the defense table as courtroom deputy Shirley Wilson asked them for their verdict, which brought a close to the second trial spawned by the Aug. 9, 1997 assault in a 70th Precinct station house bathroom.

The stunning verdict was a sharp blow to Schwarz, who's maintained his innocence.

The 34-year-old former cop is facing life in prison on his first conviction and planned to use an acquittal in this trial to bolster his appeal on the last one.

The across-the-board convictions meant the jurors didn't believe the cops' version that they never got together to come up with a story to protect Schwarz.

"How can you do this to me?" a tearful Bruder, who, along with Wiese, was acquitted last year of beating Louima in a patrol car, muttered toward the jury. "This is a travesty."

In the courthouse hallway, Bruder fighting back sobs hurled rosary beads he'd been clutching through the four days of deliberations and his glasses against the wall. His sobbing girlfriend picked them up.

Wiese, 36, who wept with his wife, left with Tacopina and his relatives without speaking to the press.

He and Bruder, 33, who are free on $100,000 bail apiece, face five years in prison. No date for sentencing has been set. Both were fired from the NYPD after the verdict.

Outside court, Louima lawyer Sanford Rubenstein hailed the verdict, saying, "What Abner Louima wants more than anything else is for what happened to him to never happen to anyone else's children."

U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said the verdicts "should send a message that within the Police Department there is no greater betrayal of the badge and of the brotherhood than to ensnare a fellow officer in a web of lies and deceit."

"Justice was done in that courtroom," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan Vinegrad, who had accused the cops of hiding behind the so-called "Blue Wall of Silence."

Andra Schwarz and London suggested the jury may have been influenced by the recent acquittals in the Amadou Diallo police shooting case.

"It's hard to ignore the post-Diallo, anti-police climate that resides in the city," he said.

Patrolmen's Benevolent Association president Pat Lynch, who was in Washington, said that politics "seeped" into the jury pool.

Mayor Giuliani and Police Commissioner Howard Safir said they had confidence in the verdict.

The next chapter will be the civil suit Louima has filed against the cops, the NYPD and the PBA. U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch's office also has an ongoing investigation into the police's patterns and practices, launched in the wake of the attack.

The decision came after 24 hours of deliberations.

Prosecutors used conflicting accounts from the officers, a flurry of phone calls between the three convicted cops and a station house basement meeting they attended with Volpe and a PBA trustee in the days after the attack to show they lied to save Schwarz.

Two cops testified they saw Schwarz lead Louima toward the bathroom.

The defense strategy was to try to show there couldn't have been a conspiracy because Schwarz was never in the bathroom.

Volpe, who's serving 30 years in jail after pleading guilty last year, was the star defense witness. He said Schwarz was never there and that Wiese was in the bathroom the whole time, but took no part in the attack.

Wiese has told investigators he walked into the bathroom after the sodomy, and didn't realize what happened. Wiese and Bruder did not testify.