Play It Isn't So

 
 
By Roy Mark  |  Posted 2007-12-07
 
 
 

NOTE TO NYPD: Many MP3 players now have digital recording ability. While that might be old news to most, apparently N.Y. police Detective Christopher Perino didn't get the memo. It may cost Perino his badge and 84 years in prison.

Perino, 42 and a 19-year New York Police Department veteran, was indicted Dec. 6 by a Bronx grand jury for allegedly lying while under oath at the trial of a Bronx man charged with attempted murder. At the April trial, Perino repeatedly insisted he did not try to pressure the prime suspect into signing a confession.

Perino also testified he did not try to dissuade the suspect from talking with an attorney nor did he try to convince the suspect he didn't need an attorney.

Unfortunately for Perino, the suspect recorded the interview with Perino on a new MP3 player he had received for Christmas. The 75-minute MP3 interview refuted all Perino's claims. Perino was indicted for perjury.

The trial centered on a Dec. 25, 2005, shooting. Six days later, Perino conducted an interview with the prime suspect, Erik Crespo, then 17. Crespo hit the record button on the MP3 player in his pocket. After the interview, Crespo was detained but allowed to turn over his personal possessions-including the MP3 player-to his mother.

During Crespo's trial, the Bronx district attorney's office was given the MP3 recording, and the attempted murder charges against Crespo were dropped. Crespo is now serving seven years on gun charges.

According to the Dec. 6 indictment, Perino perjured himself at least once in response to a question under direct examination and at least 11 times under cross-examination by Crespo's defense attorney. The indictment alleges that Perino testified falsely in denying that he had even questioned Crespo.

"These are very serious charges that put the safety of all law-abiding citizens at risk because they undermine the integrity and foundation of the entire criminal justice system," Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson said in a statement. "This indictment hopefully will send a strong message that anyone in law enforcement who engages in illegal conduct of this nature will be dealt with to the full extent of the law."

Johnson said that despite the charges against Perino, Crespo "is no innocent victim. Although the allegations of perjury undermined the attempted murder case against him, Erik Crespo ultimately pled guilty to the illegal gun charge."

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