Schwarz is MIA in Louima deal
July 16, 2001
One person was conspicuously absent from the unprecedented $8.75 million settlement Abner Louima reached with the city and Patrolmen's Benevolent Association: Chuck Schwarz.
Schwarz is the "second cop" who Louima claimed held him down in the bathroom of the 70th Precinct station house while Officer Justin Volpe sodomized him with a broomstick.
Those familiar with the case say that agreeing to the settlement would have hurt Schwarz's appeal - which will be heard this week by the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals - in the court of public opinion.
Schwarz's attorney Ronald Fischetti offers a more sanitized explanation. He says Schwarz refused to agree to the settlement to preserve his right to sue Louima in civil court for violating Schwarz's rights by "lying about him."
"For saying Chuck pulled his pants down at the front desk, for saying Schwarz kept his foot on his neck in the bathroom while Volpe sodomized him," Fischetti said.
Although convicted in two trials, Schwarz has maintained he was never in the bathroom with Louima. He has also maintained that he did not escort Louima from the front desk toward the bathroom, as Det. Eric Turetzky testified. Turetzky's testimony is believed to have led to Schwarz's conviction.
Schwarz's trial attorney Stephen Worth maintained Louima fabricated "the second cop" because he did not want to viewed as so physically weak that he would allow himself to be sodomized by only one person.
But Fischetti maintains both Louima and Turetzky, who testified he did not see Schwarz enter the bathroom, mistook Schwarz for Officer Thomas Wiese, the precinct delegate. Wiese admits entering the bathroom - but only after Louima had been attacked.
Wiese was convicted with Schwarz and a third officer, Thomas Bruder, of covering up Schwarz's alleged role in the attack.
Those closest to the case have maintained from the outset to One Police Plaza Confidential that Schwarz was not inside the bathroom with Louima, as prosecutors claim. Nor, they say, did Wiese come upon Louima in the bathroom only after Volpe's attack, as Wiese has maintained.
Rather, they say Wiese knew Volpe was about to execute some "street justice" on Louima, who Volpe mistakenly believed had struck him at the club where Louima was arrested.
Because Volpe had been in the bathroom with Louima an inordinate amount of time, Wiese opened the door and received the shock of his life.
Those closest to the case have also maintained that despite his denial, Schwarz did accompany Louima from the front desk toward the bathroom but lied to avoid the charge that, like Wiese, he should not have allowed Volpe to be alone with Louima.
Federal prosecutor Alan Vinegrad, now the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney, they maintain, used Schwarz's lie as the basis for his conspiracy theory.
Schwarz's appeal, which will be heard Thursday, follows the Circuit Court's order that prosecutors must turn over possibly exculpatory material that U.S. District Court Judge Eugene Nickerson allowed them to keep from the defense.
Far from last week's settlement closing the book on the Louima case, the next phase may be just beginning.
Kerik's aides insist he's not going Hollywood like his predecessor Howard Safir. (Remember Safir's $7,000 plane ride and five-star hotel package from the chief executive of Revlon to take in the Oscars rather than attend a City Council meeting on the Amadou Diallo shooting?)
First, they say, Kerik paid his own way. Second, the trip was strictly "Lost Son" business.
Back in New York, Kerik will soon have to decide what to do about another Safir matter - the protective security detail Mayor Rudolph Giuliani awarded Safir when he quit the department, supposedly because his life was in danger.
Kerik has shown little regard for Safir and such pet projects as the police museum, which Kerik eviscerated, firing Safir's executive director, Sgt. Thomas Gambino, and cutting the 25-officer museum detail to half a dozen.
Six months ago, Kerik reduced by a quarter Safir's then-12-officer protective detail, which Safir uses as chauffeurs and valets. (The detail is used only within the city, indicating Safir is not endangered in such places as his weekend digs in Southhold.)
The question for Kerik is this: Can he convince the mayor that continuing Safir's detail is a blot both on the department and on himself? Or will the mayor order Kerik to extend the detail so that Kerik will remain his water boy?
© 2001 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.