Convicted ex-cop seeks early prison release in NY case


By TOM HAYS
Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK- A former police officer serving a five-year sentence in one of the worst brutality cases in city history -- the broomstick torture of a Haitian immigrant in a precinct bathroom -- wants a judge to release him early.

Lawyers for Charles Schwarz argue in court papers that their client is owed early release under a sentencing deal struck with prosecutors in 2002.

Schwarz has spent more than three years behind bars, and "has done enough time," his attorney, Ronald Fischetti, said Wednesday.

The 39-year-old former officer was convicted of lying to authorities about the Abner Louima case, but he avoided conviction on charges of violating Louima's civil rights. Prosecutors say Schwarz held Louima down while another officer sodomized the handcuffed prisoner with a broken broomstick; Schwarz maintains he wasn't there.

Prosecutors had agreed in 2002 to seek a 13-month reduction in Schwarz's sentence if he and his attorneys refrained from discussing the case.

In March, prosecutors contacted the Bureau of Prisons and recommended reducing Schwarz's sentence from 60 months to 47 months, but prison officials refused, saying the law only allowed them to grant early freedom to prisoners who were terminally ill.

Defense attorneys are now asking the judge to honor the arrangement by voiding her original sentence and re-sentencing Schwarz to 47 months. A hearing in the case is set for Monday, though it isn't clear if the judge intends to rule on the request then.

The case began on Aug. 9, 1997, when police arrested Louima during a brawl outside a Brooklyn nightclub. Officer Justin Volpe mistakenly believed Louima had punched him, and the officer sought revenge inside a stationhouse bathroom, leaving Louima with severe internal injuries. Volpe is now serving a 30-year sentence.

Schwarz was convicted of perjury for testifying that he was not the second officer in the bathroom.

A call to Louima's attorney was not immediately returned. But the lawyer has said his client has no position on Schwarz's request. The city and Patrolmen's Benevolent Association agreed to pay Louima an $8.75 million settlement in a civil suit.

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