Michael Daragjati is scheduled for sentencing on Friday, reports the New York Daily News, and though one wouldn't expect him to come into court and admit to being ignorant and racist, claiming the opposite in a letter to the court just seems disingenuous at best, and utterly dishonest at worst.
The former NYPD officer was arrested in October on multiple charges, including extortion and violating the civil rights of an African-American man from Staten Island, 32-year-old Kendrick Gray.
The extortion charge was unrelated to the civil rights charge, reports The New York Times. It stems from an incident in which he believed someone had stolen his snow plow. He lured the victim to a parking lot, where a group of men beat the victim and ordered him to return the plow or pay $5,000.
The civil rights charge was discovered by accident when the FBI was monitoring Daragjati's phones for evidence on the extortion charge. They overheard him stating that he had, "fried another n-----."
According to the Huffington Post, Daragjati was referring to Kendrick Gray, who was stopped and frisked. Gray took offense to the unwarranted stop. Daragjati took offense to his offense and arrested him on fabricated charges, claiming that he had resisted arrest.
Daragjati pled guilty back in January on both charges, agreeing not to appeal the case if the sentence was less than 63 months, reports the Times. In the letter to the judge, he explained that his motivation was not racial; he used the term indiscriminately to refer to ignorant people on the streets who lacked respect for the community and the law.
He has vowed to never use the epithet again. We'll see if the judge believes him.
The interesting thing about his letter is that the charge he is arguing to the judge is actually the less severe charge. Violating the civil rights of another under the color of law is only a misdemeanor charge under Federal law. It carries a penalty of up to one year in jail.
The extortion charge, according to the Times, carries up to 20 years in prison, though the federal sentencing guidelines call for less than five years. If he is begging for leniency, one would think he should be addressing that charge.
Judges tend to show more leniency when the defendant takes responsibility for their actions. Daragjati's letter to the judge sounds more like excuses layered on top of a partial acceptance of guilt.
In addition to the criminal penalties, Daragjati has already had his employment terminated and, according to the Post, is facing a civil suit from his victim.
- Find a New York Personal Injury Attorney (FindLaw)
- Mayor Bloomberg Wants to Mend, Not End Stop and Frisk (FindLaw's New York Personal Injury Law Blog)
- 'Stop and Frisk' And Why It Might Be Unconstitutional (FindLaw's New York Criminal Law Blog)
- Police Misconduct Case: Did the Lawyers Beat the Cops? (FindLaw's New York Personal Injury Law Blog)