Although the case of New York City police abuse involving Haitian immigrant Abner Louima has dropped off the radar screen of most media outlets, the wife of one of the convicted cops is waging a campaign to raise funds to prove what she believes to be the truth – that her husband, Chuck Schwarz, is completely innocent.
Andra Schwarz is soliciting donations to the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund to help pay for an appeal of her husband’s conviction. In a letter asking for contributions, Mrs. Schwarz tells the story of Chuck Schwarz’s arrest, conviction and incarceration for both sexual assault and for violating Louima’s civil rights. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
After being arrested for disorderly conduct in 1997, Louima was brought to the 70th precinct of the New York Police Department to be booked. Louima was sodomized with a broom handle in the bathroom of the station, suffering several internal injuries.
Officer Justin Volpe was arrested for the assault a few days later after protesters demanded swift action against Louima’s attacker.
“Local politicians, who didn’t want stories about police brutality to destroy their chances for re-election, wanted to make arrests quickly,” Schwarz says in her letter.
Schwarz contends that activists weren’t satisfied with only one arrest.
“Al Sharpton and the NAACP said there had to be more cops involved,” she writes. “They wanted more arrests!”
To Schwarz’s shock, her husband, Chuck, then was arrested and charged.
Schwarz believed that the involvement of federal investigators would clear her husband of any wrongdoing, Instead, she says, “things went from bad to worse.”
“The government wasn’t there to help Chuck,” writes Schwarz. “It was there to drum up evidence against him. The same government that Chuck had served so bravely as a Marine was trying to put him behind bars!”
Schwarz claims the prosecution produced no evidence that her husband was in the bathroom where the assault took place. She also indicates that Louima could not positively identify Chuck Schwarz as having been involved in the crime.
After Schwarz’s conviction three jurors submitted affidavits stating they believe he is innocent and should not have been convicted. They based their change in opinion on new evidence that had not been available at the trial – that the second officer Louima saw was likely Schwarz’s partner, Thomas Wiese, who opened the door of the bathroom after the assault.
According to Mrs. Schwarz, the prosecutors did not take Wiese’s statement into account.
Said Schwarz, “With all of New York City in an uproar, they didn’t want to admit that they’d made a mistake and arrested an innocent cop.”
While Schwarz laments the two years her husband has spent in jail, she is buoyed by a new effort to win his freedom.
The chairman of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, Schwarz says, saw her husband’s story covered on a segment of “60 Minutes” called “The Wrong Man.” That’s when the organization got involved with the case.
Although in September a judge refused to order a new trial, according to LELDF’s website, “the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the case over the next few months.”
The organization filed a motion for a new trial based on the contention that “the government didn’t [divulge] all the information from interviews of police officers,” said David Martin, chairman of LELDF, referring to Wiese’s statement.
It’s not clear at this time when a new trial may take place.
Martin told WorldNetDaily, “We’re hoping for a decision any day” from the circuit court.
Once arguments are made, a decision on the appeal itself could take up to a year.
Martin refused to say how much his organization has spent on Schwarz’s appeal.
“It’s a substantial amount,” he said. “At one point, we had four attorneys working on it.”
Schwarz concludes her letter: “I pray that no one in your family ever has to go through an ordeal like this one.”