New York Post
March 26, 2002

LIAR, LIAR

By KATI CORNELL SMITH

   
Charles Schwarz  

The feds slapped ex-cop Charles Schwarz with new charges yesterday — accusing him of lying on the witness stand when he denied leading Abner Louima to the station-house bathroom where he was sexually tortured or being there during the attack.

At two-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury yesterday accuses Schwarz of perjuring himself when he testified in his own defense at a 2000 trial on charges he conspired in a cover-up.

"Many acts of obstruction and lying have permeated this case from the beginning. The defendant Charles Schwarz's conduct at his own trial was uniquely serious," U.S. Attorney Alan Vinegrad said in a statement.

Schwarz, who has consistently proclaimed his innocence, looked sullen yesterday as he left his Staten Island home, telling reporters he had no comment.

His attorney, Ron Fischetti, said the ex-cop had "no forewarning" of the new charges, and believes the feds are trying to nail him just for defending himself.

"It's incredible. I've never seen anything like this before. In my opinion, it's like indicting Chuck Schwarz for saying he's innocent," Fischetti said, adding that Schwarz will plead not guilty to the latest counts.

The new charges, which each carry a maximum five-year sentence, come less than a month after a federal appeals court ordered a new trial for Schwarz for allegedly helping then-Officer Justin Volpe sodomize Louima with a stick in the bathroom of Brooklyn's 70th Precinct station house in 1997.

He was released on bail March 7, after serving nearly three years in prison — much of it in solitary confinement.

In February, the 2nd Circuit judges also tossed the convictions of Schwarz and two other former officers, Thomas Wiese and Thomas Bruder, on charges they conspired to obstruct a grand-jury investigation.

The three-judge panel indicated in its decision that a broader conspiracy charge — such as lying to investigators — would have held water.

Quoting courtroom testimony from Feb. 23, 2000, the new indictment says prosecutors asked Schwarz, "Did you ever escort Abner Louima from the front desk of the 70th Precinct . . . toward the cells and make a right turn toward the bathroom?" and Schwarz replied, "No."

At another point in the questioning, prosecutors asked, "Were you ever in the bathroom with him?" and Schwarz answered, "Absolutely not."

In concluding that these statements are false, the grand jury agreed that Schwarz did walk Louima to the bathroom, and was present during the attack.

An arraignment date is set for April 3. Louima's lawyer, Sanford Rubenstein, said he spoke with his client, and the Haitian immigrant "is prepared to testify at the trial on this indictment."

In past testimony, Louima said there was a second attacker in the bathroom with Volpe, and that he believed that man also drove the patrol car that night. Although Schwarz was the driver, Louima never could identify him.

But there's another witness who's ready to back Schwarz's account. Volpe has said that it was Wiese — not Schwarz — who was in the bathroom with him.

"If he's subpoenaed, he would certainly come and testify," said Volpe's lawyer, Marvyn Kornberg.

Fischetti said he is sure that Vinegrad did his homework, but added, "How can they charge [Schwarz] with perjury after the convictions were overturned? I don't know."