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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Ex-NYPD Cop Sentenced to Year in Prison

Kenneth Moreno, ex-NYPD cop acquitted of rape, freed on bail hours after sentenced to year in prison
The New York Daily News by Melissa Grace, Lore Croghan and Corky Siemaszko - August 8, 2011
Former police officer Kenneth Moreno got an earful from the judge during his sentencing.

Disgraced ex-cop Kenneth Moreno didn't stay in jail for long. A couple hours after an angry Manhattan judge flat-out called Moreno a liar Monday and dispatched him to Rikers Island to being a year-long prison sentence, an appeals court judge sprung him. Moreno, acquitted in May of raping a bombed fashion executive while his partner served as lookout, was released on $125,000 bail by Appeals Court Judge Nelson Roman so he can appeal his conviction on official misconduct charges. It was a startling turnabout for the 43-year-old Moreno, who Supreme Court Justice Gregory Carro ordered remanded. "There will be people who conclude in some way, I took into consideration charges of which you were acquitted," Carro said when Moreno appeared before him. "That is not the case." "There has to be an import to some of the lies you told on the stand, but also your position at the time you committed these crimes. You were a police officer." When Moreno was marched off, his 29-year-old accuser broke down crying. Moreno faced up to two years in prison for making repeated trips to the woman's East Village apartment without notifying his superiors. His lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, had hoped Carro would give him probation. Carro split the difference but brushed aside a request from Tacopina to delay punishment and immediately sent the ousted officer to jail. Tacopina said his client is not afraid of jail. "Ken is a very mentally tough guy," he said. "With good time, he'll serve nine months." Sonia Ossorio of the National Organization for Women, which was outraged when Moreno and his partner, Franklin Mata, were acquitted of rape, applauded the judge. "There is some semblance of justice in seeing Moreno led away in handcuffs for his crimes," she said. This is not the end of Moreno's legal troubles. A packet of heroin was found in his police locker during the rape probe and he is due back in court next month on a drug possession charge. Meanwhile, the sentencing of Moreno's partner, Franklin Mata, 29, was postponed until Wednesday because his lawyer was representing another client currently on trial in Brooklyn. During the nearly two-month trial, the Gap executive gave graphic testimony about how Moreno roused her from a drunken stupor by raping her. There was no DNA evidence and a jury acquitted the cops of rape and burglary. The panel convicted them only of official misconduct and they were fired by the NYPD. Arguing for the maximum two-year sentence, prosecutor Coleen Balbert said Moreno "acted as though he was above the law." Tacopina countered that his client has already lost his job and pension and accused prosecutors of hounding him because of their "inability to accept the jury's verdict." Carro agreed that Moreno deserved jail time, especially since the ex-cop admitted he spooned with the drunken woman at one point during the night. "You were in bed with a naked intoxicated young woman," he said. "That is official misconduct." Carro also said cops are held to a higher standard and that Moreno's actions "ripped a gaping hole" in the fabric of society. In closing, the judge also took aim at Tacopina's argument that Moreno was more of a "simpleton" than a sexual predator. "Simpleton like a fox," Carro said. Defense lawyers had feared the accuser might make a statement that could sway the judge. But she stayed mum through the proceeding and left - her face streaked with tears - after Moreno was sentenced.

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