MANHATTAN (CN) – A former New York City cop began a year-long prison sentence Monday after a criminal court judge blasted him for lying to jurors about the night he spent with a naked, intoxicated young woman in the bedroom of her apartment.
“You’ve ripped a hole in that fabric of our society,” Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Gregory Carro said at the sentencing hearing. “There has to be an import to all of that.”
In a May verdict met with widespread protest, a jury previously acquitted that officer, Kenneth Moreno, and his partner Franklin Mata, of rape and burglary counts, while convicting them of three counts of official misconduct.
Judge Carro made it clear that he found the accuser’s story far more credible than that of the cops.
Mata’s sentencing was delayed because his attorney was at trial in another district.
Dubbed the “rape cops” by local tabloids, Moreno and Mata said that they merely assisted a woman whose cabdriver had called them after taking her home from a night of partying on Dec. 7, 2008.
The first time the cops visited the apartment of the 27-year-old fashion executive, they received an assignment to escort her home from the back of a cab where she had passed out. Moreno admitted at trial, however, that he faked a 911 call later that evening to get an assignment that would let him and his partner return to her building.
“You wanted to get into the apartment so badly that you committed a crime to do so,” Carro said, adding that Moreno likely only admitted it because the statute of limitations had expired for that crime.
Evidence and testimony also showed that the cops signed in at their station for a meal, then slipped out the back door to visit the apartment a third time.
Both parties said that the cops found her in the bathroom the first few visits.
The woman, who says she slipped in and out of consciousness that night, testified that she woke up during the last visit to Moreno pulling down her tights and raping her while she was too drunk to resist.
Mata, prosecutors said, waited in the woman’s living room to alert his partner if their patrol was looking for them.
Moreno claimed that he innocently spooned with his accuser while she was wearing only her underwear.
“By your own admission, being in bed with a vulnerable, intoxicated young female,” Carro emphasized. “You’re a trained police officer.”
A recovering alcoholic, Moreno swore that he kept returning to her apartment to counsel her on drinking.
Judge Carro treated this explanation with withering sarcasm.
“We want her drunk enough that she had a faulty memory,” Carro said. “So you came up with this story. She was a lonely soul that needed comfort.”
Nevertheless, the jury believed the cops’ story raised reasonable doubt to warrant an acquittal on the major charges of sexual assault and burglary.
Some jurors later told reporters that they doubted the cops’ story.
While he said he respected the jury’s verdict, Carro ripped Moreno for his “incredible” testimony.
“You told a story that was incredible: Admitting what you couldn’t deny; denying what you couldn’t admit,” the judge said. “You had a duty to testify truthfully, and it’s clear that you didn’t.”
Although defense attorney Joseph Tacopina called his client Moreno a “simpleton,” Carro said that the cop’s testimony showed otherwise.
“‘Simpleton,’ like a fox,” Carro scoffed, adding that Moreno “interwove the witness’s memories with your own explanation of what those memories meant.”
The judge rejected Tacopina’s argument that Moreno should not be treated more harshly because he was a cop.
“You should be treated just like any other individual,” Carro said. “However, the law also treats police officers differently. You kill a police officer, it’s Murder 1. You kill Joe Smith, it’s Murder 2.”
Carro refused to allow Moreno to surrender himself to prison at a later date, and Moreno was remanded to prison immediately after the sentencing.
The former officer is also still on the hook for heroin possession, facing a Sept. 12 court appearance on that count.
Moreno and Mata also face a civil lawsuit by their accuser.