The New York Law Journal by Joel Stashenko - March 30, 2012
Also on March 29, the New York Court of Appeals unanimously upheld a finding by the Appellate Division, First Department, that former New York City police detective Christopher Perino was guilty of perjury for denying that he had not interrogated attempted-murder suspect Erik Crespo in the Bronx in 2005 before Mr. Crespo made what he characterized as a "spontaneous admission" to his mother. Unbeknowst to Mr. Perino, Mr. Crespo taped the interview on Mr. Crespo's MP3 player and later caught the detective in some apparent misstatements about the conversations. In an opinion by Justice Pigott, the Court agreed with the Appellate Division, First Department, that, while some counts of perjury should be reduced from first to third degree, the evidence pointed to misstatements that Mr. Perino made under oath while describing his interview with Mr. Crespo. The decision rejected appeals by both Mr. Perino and the prosecution. Mr. Perino argued that the admission of Mr. Crespo's "spontaneous" statement was not material to the issues being litigated at Mr. Crespo's trial, having been settled at a suppression hearing. Therefore, he contended, his own testimony could not be considered perjury. But the Court held that Mr. Perino's testimony was "relevant to the jury's determination on whether Crespo's statement to his mother was truly spontaneous and voluntary or whether it was triggered by police conduct that could reasonably have been anticipated to evoke such a statement." Bronx Assistant District Attorney Christoper Blira-Koessler argued for the prosecution. Ira Feinberg of Hogan Lovells represented Mr. Perino. Mr. Perino, a 19-year police veteran, was originally sentenced to four months in jail, which the First Department reduced to two months, but he has remained free on bail pending appeal. Joel Stashenko can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.