Today former NYPD police officer Kenneth Moreno, who was acquitted of raping a woman while on duty, received the maximum sentence for "official misconduct" and was berated by a judge for his numerous lies. But, the story has an utterly unsatisfying end, as Moreno was released just hours later by an appeals court judge.
In May a jury found Moreno not guilty of raping a 27-year-old woman while his partner, Franklin Mata, stood watch. Though there was ample evidence against Moreno, the jury wasn't convinced that he committed the crime because there was no DNA evidence (and no one believes drunk women). The officers were found guilty of three counts of official misconduct for returning to the woman's apartment three times while on duty (and as Moreno admitted, "snuggling" with her in bed).
Though a parole committee recommended that the officers be given probation, in court today Judge Gregory Carro sentenced Moreno to one year in prison for each count. According to Reuters (which decided to note in its headline that the misconduct involved a "drunk" woman) the law dictates that the sentences must be served concurrently. Mata's sentencing has been postponed to Wednesday.
Carro insisted that his harsh treatment of Moreno had nothing to do with the rape acquittal and pointed out that just the official misconduct was despicable enough to warrant the maximum sentence. "Law enforcement plays an important role in the fabric of our society," he said. "You ripped that fabric." Carro added:
"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."
Moreno's lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, gave the protesters gathered outside the courtroom and unintentional tip of the hat by declaring, "I don't think if this had been an anonymous defendant that the sentence would have been same." Moreno's request for 20 days to surrender was denied, and he was escorted to directly to Riker's Island.
Sonia Ossorio of the National Organization for Women, said, "There is some semblance of justice in seeing Moreno led away in handcuffs for his crimes." But that feeling was short-lived. This afternoon Appeals Court Judge Nelson Roman released Moreno on $125,000 bail so he can appeal his conviction.
Even if Moreno's appeal is successful, he may still be facing jail time. During the rape and misconduct investigation, heroin was found in his locker, and now he's facing drug possession charges. Stay tuned to find out Moreno's lawyer paints him as the victim in that case too.
Former Cop Gets Prison For Misconduct With Drunk Woman [Reuters]
Kenneth Moreno, Ex-NYPD Cop Acquitted Of Rape, Freed On Bail Hours After Sentenced To Year In Prison [N.Y. Daily News]
Ex-Cop, Acquitted Of Rape, Sentenced To Prison For Misconduct [CNN]