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Louima case's new mystery

August 6, 2001

In the Abner Louima case, where the incredible continues to become reality, a mystery witness surfaced last month for Charles Schwarz - who was convicted as the "second cop" inside Brooklyn's 70th Precinct bathroom when Louima was brutalized.

He is former Sgt. Patrick Walsh, who police sources said retired a year ago on a medical disability due to a liver problem and whose affidavit before a federal appeals court casts doubt on a key government witness.

That witness, Officer Eric Turetzky, told jurors he saw Schwarz leading Louima toward the bathroom shortly before Officer Justin Volpe sodomized Louima with a broomstick. Turetzky's testimony is believed to have convicted Schwarz as the second officer.

In his affidavit, Walsh says Turetzky gave a different story when the two talked. Walsh says Turetzky said he wasn't certain whether it was Schwarz or his partner, Thomas Wiese, who led Louima toward the bathroom. Schwarz's attorney Ronald Fischetti says this newly discovered evidence warrants a new trial for Schwarz.

But now a person familiar with the case has told One Police Plaza that before Schwarz's first trial in 1999, Walsh provided the same evidence to Schwarz's then-counsel Steve Worth, who dismissed it.

If that's true, that could end Schwarz's chances of a new trial. It also spells trouble for Worth for not informing Fischetti.

Worth - who argued in Schwarz's first trial that Louima fabricated the second officer and whose argument was subsequently ridiculed by Fischetti as "baseless and contrary to the evidence" - did not return a call last week.

Fischetti says no such meeting occurred.

"Walsh said he never met with Worth at all regarding this, and Worth told me he wouldn't know [Walsh] if he fell over him," Fischetti said, adding that Assistant Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Alan Vinegrad called Walsh about the meeting.

"It never happened," Fischetti said of a Walsh-Worth meeting. "It's a non-starter."

Attorneys for Walsh, whom federal prosecutors questioned about his affidavit, say Vinegrad did not ask Walsh about the supposed meeting.

Another attorney in the case, however, says Worth's denial of the meeting with Walsh was not quite as categorical as Fischetti indicated.

"I have no present recollection of any meeting at this time," the attorney quoted Worth as saying.

Taking Care of Safir.
The schnorring Safirs. Faced with the choice of being referred to in this columnas Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's "water boy" or angering the mayor himself, Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik took the path of least resistance and extended Howard Safir's security detail to the end of the year.

Apparently, the city is not as safe as Giuliani would like us to believe since the four detectives in the detail - supposedly instituted because of threats on Safir's life, according to Giuliani - are assigned to work only in the city.

A person who visited Safir recently at his weekend place in Southhold, noted the absence of the detail.

If Safir is the King of Schnorrers, his wife, Carol, is becoming the queen. The police museum - of which she is the president - is now seeking special city funding status because, among other things, private funding, which was to have been the mainstay of its support, has dried up.

Carol Safir told The New York Times last week that the museum has had 68,000 visitors over the past year. That figure has about as much credibility as her husband's death threats.

Pete and the Police.
Here is what City Council Speaker and mayoral candidate Peter Vallone has to say about the Police Department.

It was he who pushed what he described as a reluctant Mayor David N. Dinkins into the Safe Streets, Safe Cities program, which led to 5,000 more police officers on the streets.

His short list of candidates for police commissioner include commissioner Kerik; former commissioner Ray Kelly; former first deputy and current Philadelphia Police Commissioner John Timoney and current First Deputy Joe Dunne.

He supports an independent monitor outside the department, which has been opposed by the mayor, as a means of limiting police corruption.

He supports community or neighborhood policing, which he says was built on the concept that officers would know their neighborhoods and believes the shooting of Amadou Diallo by four white police officers from the Street Crime Unit would not have occurred if such a concept had been in effect.

He supports the return of the Diallo officers to full duty. "I have no problem with their being back on the street," he says.

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© 2001 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.