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Ex-N.Y. officer to go to prison

Cleared of rape, guilty of deceit

Ken Moreno (left) with attorney Chad Seigel yesterday. The judge decried Moreno’s version of events as self-serving lies. Ken Moreno (left) with attorney Chad Seigel yesterday. The judge decried Moreno’s version of events as self-serving lies. (Louis Lanzano/ Associated Press)
By Jennifer Peltz
Associated Press / August 9, 2011

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NEW YORK - A former police officer was sentenced yesterday to a year in prison for keeping dispatchers and supervisors in the dark as he returned three times to a drunk woman’s apartment after helping her get home.

Kenneth Moreno was cleared of the most serious charge against him - that he raped the semiconscious woman.

With Moreno’s accuser and about a score of women’s advocates looking on in a tense courtroom, a prosecutor said the “implausibility’’ of the former officer’s account of his December 2008 encounter with the woman “cries out for a strong judicial response.’’

Moreno’s lawyer retorted that it seemed prosecutors “didn’t hear the ‘not’ before the ‘guilty’ in this verdict.’’

The judge decried Moreno’s version of events as self-serving lies.

A grim-looking Moreno was led away after hearing his sentence, but the court later agreed to release him on $125,000 bail pending his appeal.

“There will be people who conclude in some way, I took into consideration charges of which you were acquitted,’’ state Supreme Court Justice Gregory Carro said before giving Moreno half the maximum possible sentence. “That is not the case.’’

Rather, he said, “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, 43, and his former partner, Franklin Mata, 29, were fired from the police department within hours of their official misconduct convictions and acquittals on rape, burglary, and other charges in May.

Mata’s sentencing was postponed to tomorrow because his lawyer was enmeshed in a trial elsewhere. He had been accused of standing watch while Moreno was with the woman, who had been out celebrating a job promotion.

The two met their accuser in December 2008 after a taxi driver called for help getting her out of his cab. She told authorities she passed out and awoke to being raped in her bed, saying she acutely remembered being violated despite being unclear on significant stretches of the night and early morning.

And she secretly recorded a conversation days later in which Moreno alternately denied they had sex but said “yes’’ twice when she asked whether he had used a condom. Moreno told jurors he was trying to mollify her.

The former officers acknowledged returning to her apartment three times within four hours of the initial call, while saying they were elsewhere - the genesis of their misconduct convictions. Moreno admitted he even placed a phony 911 call about a sleeping vagrant to provide a pretext for one of the visits.

“He risked having police resources expended for his own devious and selfish purposes,’’ Assistant District Attorney Coleen Balbert told the judge. “This was not just a stupid mistake.’’

The officers said the woman had asked them to come back and check on her, and Moreno said he felt impelled to give her advice about drinking and to comfort her.

He said that she made advances and he ultimately ended up cuddling with the barely dressed woman in her bed, but that they didn’t have sex.

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