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Livoti’s gone, but not forgotten

September 22, 1997

Bronx State Supreme Court Judge Douglas McKeon said last week that he would turn over to prosecutors what he described as "very, very disturbing" internal police testimony concerning the case of ex-cop Francis X. Livoti.

Livoti was acquitted last fall of fatally choking Anthony Baez of the Bronx. The NYPD then tried him internally and dismissed him. The Baez family has filed a $48 million civil suit against him and the city. McKeon is presiding over the case.

The internal testimony that so disturbed McKeon involves both perjury and a cover-up. McKeon, who in 10 years on the bench has probably heard more claims against city cops for false arrest and brutality than any other judge in New York, said, "The testimony goes beyond the incident into the stationhouse."

The testimony is that of Police Officer Daisy Boria, who at both of Livoti's trials contradicted the half-dozen other cops - including her partner. Those cops testified that they witnessed a struggle between Livoti and Baez but saw no chokehold. Boria testified that she saw no confrontaton. Baez had apparently collapsed before she and her partner arrived.

Acting Bronx State Supreme Court Judge Gerald Sheindlin, who acquitted Livoti, interrupted closing arguments to describe the conflicting police testimony as "a nest of perjury." In the days following, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Police Commissioner Howard Safir, Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson and the United States Attorney for the Southern District, Mary Jo White, all promised investigations.

But that was then and this is now.

Last week, Assistant Corporation Counsel Elizabeth Gross termed Baez family lawyer Susan Karten's request for the testimony "grandstanding."

Chief Litigating Corporation Counsel Lawrence Kahn wrote to McKeon saying that releasing Boria's testimony could "severely hamper" a future prosecution.

Boria's attorney Roger Bernstein opposed the release of her testimony, citing "safety concerns." He referred to the round-the-clock protection given Eric Turetsky, the 70th Precinct cop who exposed the Abner Louima brutality incident, presumably against fellow cops. White has been silent about the case for the past year.

Johnson's spokesman, Steve Reed, said the DA's investigation had found "no provable perjury at this point." In part, this was because no one corroborates Boria's claims; in part because Boria carries her own baggage. In 1987, she was indicted on perjury charges by the Manhattan district attorney for lying about an accident involving a phony negligence claim. She was acquitted.

Printable versionSafir now says he remembers nothing of perjury. Mayor Giuliani has said nothing, maintaining last week, even after the Louima incident, that the police can monitor themselves.

The Big Meet. Al Sharpton being Al Sharpton, here's what he says about a meeting that never took place with ex-police commissioner Bill Bratton at One Police Plaza, following an incident at a Harlem mosque in January, 1995, which proved to be a defining confrontation with the Giuliani administration.

"In fairness, Bratton tried to reach out but was handcuffed by Giuliani. He had agreed to meet with me and the heads of the Nation of Islam the night of the mosque incident. He said he would clear my car to park in his space at One Police Plaza. They cleared my car and Minister Conrad Mohammad's car. We went into the police commissioner's spot, took the elevator upstairs but Deputy Commissioner David Scott said we got a call from across the street to cancel the meeting. Clearly, Bratton had agreed to meet. How did we get to his office if we hadn't been cleared?"

Says Bratton: "I had planned a meeting with Conrad Mohammad, which was arranged by Don Mohammad, the regional head of the Muslims from Boston, who was looking to meet without Sharpton. But they picked up Sharpton and their attorney C. Vernon Mason. The meeting was between Black Muslims and the police. Sharpton and Mason showed up uninvited. I, not Giuliani, made the decision not to meet with Sharpton. I am the mayor's alibi."

Heard: Police spokeswoman Marilyn Mode's explanation of how Arthur LaMothe Jr., a 42-year-old black laborer, was charged with manslaughter in the death of off-duty Sgt. Walker Fitzgerald after police held him for four days at Queens' 115th Precinct while telling his family he wasn't there: "He was never held in a cell and was free to leave at any time. He apparently did not ask to use a telephone. If he wanted to, he could have."

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Email Leonard Levitt at llevitt@nypdconfidential.com

© 1997 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.