Pedro Barbosa lives in New York City. Michael Bergmann is a former New York City cop who was fired from the force for providing false testimony in court that could have sent Barbosa to prison for up to 15 years.
“They [referring to Bergmann and his partner] would follow me wherever I went. They’d tell me, ‘We’re going to get you off the streets,” said Barbosa in an interview with the New York Post. “If they found anything in my car, even a screwdriver, they’d arrest me for burglary tools,” he added.
Bergmann reportedly had been harassing Barbosa for months, especially since Barbosa’s driver’s license had been suspended. In the wee morning hours of February 1, 2019, on a street devoid of witnesses, Bergmann pulled his prowl car next to Barbosa’s already parked car by the curb. Seeing his nemesis, Barbosa drove away.
With no witnesses, Bergmann filed a complaint against Barbosa for first degree assault. “The defendant locked eyes with me, turned the car into reverse, floored the vehicle into reverse approximately seven feet,” testilied Bergmann. And his perjury did not stop there. “As I’m still yelling, the defendant put it in drive, turned the vehicle towards me to the point where I was in between his headlights, and if I didn’t jump out of the way, I would have been under his vehicle.” He claimed an elbow injury resulting from his alleged leap from in front of Barbosa’s onrushing car.
Without witnesses to support him, Barbosa was looking at 15 years in prison had it not been for the tenacity of a public defender’s office investigator identified only as Julia. In the words of public defense attorney Scott Hechinger: “I remember when Julia knocked on my door. I got video surveillance in the Barbosa case. They lied. It’s clear. She handed me a DVD. Popped it into my computer and watched. ‘Holy sh*t! ‘I know, right!?’ she said.” The video was part of a nearby business’ security system. The persecution of Barbosa ceased mid-trial, and the charges against him were dismissed.
Bergmann was charged with perjury. He was fired from his cop job. Then it was his turn to go before the bench. The prosecutors sought a year of jail time, but because Bergmann had been a cop, they realistically expected him to receive only a six-month sentence, tops.
To everyone’s surprise, Judge Danny Chun sentenced Bergmann to serve one day in jail and four years on probation. Chun went on record saying he felt that a six-month sentence would have been “unduly harsh.”
Given the propensity of New York City cops to perjure themselves [CLN, December 2019, p. 40], Chun may have been accustomed to that sort of thing from cops in his court.
Then again, this is not the first example of hackneyed justice and inane sentences for former cops in Chun’s court. In one case where two former cops sexually assaulted a teenage girl in exchange for releasing her, Chun questioned the victim’s “credibility” and said that “both sides” had been guilty of crimes relating to the “bribe.” Another cop who drew a probated sentence had shot a man twice in the face and then tampered with the evidence. With a sentencing record like that, no one should have been at all surprised with Chun’s disposition of Bergmann’s case. And with a sentencing record like that, Chun should be keeping company with Bergmann in the unemployment office.
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