Wiese facing real dilemma
July 1, 2002
We all know of the Blue Wall of Silence, which supposedly prevents cops from coming forward and testifying against other cops.
But what of an officer's breaching the blue wall to testify for another officer? Especially if by doing so, the officer has nothing to gain and everything to lose. Well, that's the choice now facing Thomas Wiese.
Is Wiese willing to risk perjury charges to testify for his former partner, Charles Schwarz, who is charged with being the "second man" inside the bathroom in the 70th Precinct station house when Justin Volpe sodomized Abner Louima with a broken broomstick?
Wiese, one of the precinct's three union delegates, was the officer who, ignoring his attorney's advice, ran to the Brooklyn district attorney to proclaim it was he, not Schwarz, inside the bathroom with Volpe and Louima.
But there was a twist to his tale. Wiese maintained he was outside the bathroom, playing with the station-house dog and unaware of the assault, and entered the bathroom as the assault ended.
Volpe pleaded guilty to sodomizing Louima and was sentenced to 30 years.
Schwarz was convicted as the second man and received 15 years. Wiese and fellow officer Thomas Bruder were convicted of obstruction of justice, but their convictions were overturned by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
Scwharz' conviction was also overturned and he is on trial again, both for the assault and for perjury.
Wiese's attorney, Joseph Tacopina, says he's practiced due diligence, advising Wiese to sit out Schwarz's trial. "My obligation is only to Tommy," Tacopina said. "My advice is to stay home."
Whether Wiese testifies for Schwarz "is going to be his call," Tacopina said. "He thinks Chuck is totally wrongly accused, and he wants to do it. I discharged my duties when I disclosed all the perils and pitfalls."
Simply put, Tacopina said, the perils are these: If Wiese testifies and Schwarz is acquitted, they are free and clear. If he testifies and Schwarz is convicted, Wiese could be indicted for perjury.
How important is Wiese's testimony for Schwarz? Says a lawyer familiar with the case: "It's never been any more important than it is now."
Schwarz' lawyer, Ron Fischetti, is playing coy about whether Wiese will testify. He does say that Volpe will testify as Schwarz' first witness.
To further complicate Wiese's decision, Volpe has testified that Wiese was in the room during the assault.
But the white heat of anger flashes as he describes Anthony Bottom, currently up for parole after murdering officers Joseph Piagentini and Waverly Jones 30 years ago.
Biting off his words, Kelly describes Bottom as "a cold-blooded killer."
"I see no reason for that individual to receive consideration," Kelly said recently. "The passage of time doesn't change anything."
Contrast Kelly to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who sounds decidedly cool on the subject.
"He's working behind the scenes," his spokesman, Ed Skyler, said. "He is seriously considering contacting the parole board" to argue that cop killers should remain in jail.
Williams and four accomplices randomly raped, beat and robbed guests at a party in Plainview, then drove to a diner in Westbury where they robbed and terrorized customers, making them strip and ordering some to have sex with one another. Two men were shot and at least one waitress was raped.
Two accomplices are serving life sentences for an unrelated murder. A third, his brother, Michael, may also be released because he has entered a sex-offender program. The fourth has refused to enroll in the program and will remain imprisoned - for now.
© 2002 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.