N.Y. officer to plead guilty in assault case

Officer Justin Volpe standing trial on charges of brutalizing immigrant

May 25, 1999|By NEWSDAY

NEW YORK -- In a dramatic development that would confirm one of New York's most horrific allegations of police brutality, Officer Justin Volpe is to plead guilty today to crimes stemming from the brutal assault on Haitian immigrant Abner Louima.

With Volpe's defense in tatters, his attorney, Marvyn Kornberg, asked to speak with U.S. District Judge Eugene Nickerson about 3: 45 p.m. yesterday, during a break in Volpe's trial with four other officers.

"With respect to the defendant Volpe, your honor we would like to enter a plea" today, Kornberg said, according to a transcript of the conversation, which occurred outside the jury's hearing.

The plea was to be entered before Nickerson at U.S. District Court in Brooklyn.

Volpe, looking downcast and defeated, sat slumped in his chair. He stared into the audience where his brother sat and then returned his gaze before staring downward at the defense table through the rest of the court proceeding.

Volpe's father, Robert, a decorated detective known as the "Art Cop" for his investigations recovering stolen art works, was not in court and later declined to comment.

Attorneys for the remaining four defendants said Volpe's plea would not affect their cases.

Volpe had been the focus of the prosecution case, in which a fellow police officer testified that Volpe admitted sodomizing Louima with a stick in the bathroom of a Brooklyn police station on Aug. 9, 1997.

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