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Tue, 27 Jun 2000 18:16:20 -0400 (EDT)

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NYC Officers Sentenced in Louima Torture Attack

NEW YORK, June 27—A New York City police officer was sentenced to more than 15 years in prison on Tuesday for holding down a Haitian man as he was sexually tortured, while two other officers who tried to cover up the violence got five years.

Officer Charles Schwarz could have been sentenced to life in prison for the August 1997 assault on Abner Louima, who was seriously injured in the incident that sparked outrage in New York City.

Schwarz was convicted at two trials, the first for restraining Louima during the assault and the second for conspiring to cover up the crime.

Officers Thomas Bruder and Thomas Wiese were found guilty of obstruction of justice for covering up Schwarz's role in the attack. They were sentenced to five years each, the maximum.

A fourth officer, Justin Volpe, pleaded guilty to violating Louima's civil rights and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Schwarz was convicted of holding down Louima in the bathroom of a Brooklyn precinct house as Volpe rammed a stick up his rectum. The two other men helped cover up the assault.

Before being sentenced to 15 years and eight months in prison, Schwarz read a defiant 15-minute statement attacking prosecutors and U.S. District Court Judge Eugene Nickerson in the racially charged case.

"I expected to receive a fair trial and I did not," he said. "Everyone responsible for this wrongful conviction of an innocent man wants to make this case go away. This is never going to happen. I refuse to go down quietly and I refuse to lay down and die."

Schwarz, who has said he was nowhere near the precinct bathroom at the time of the attack, did not seek leniency.

"I refuse to demean myself and beg for mercy for a crime I did not commit, although I am sorry that Abner Louima and his family suffered greatly," said Schwarz, who has already served 13 months in prison.

Afterward, Bruder simply said to reporters: "I told the truth."

Louima, who had been arrested following a scuffle at a nightclub, suffered severe internal injuries that required several surgeries. He was hospitalized for more than two months.