New York City police officer Michael Bergmann did not think twice about committing perjury on the witness stand last year when he testified under oath before a grand jury that a man had tried to run him over in the hopes of sending him to prison for a crime he did not commit.
Like many cops, Bergmann probably figured he would never be caught. He probably also figured that even if he were caught, his Blue Privilege would protect him.
Turns out, he was right.
Thanks to a judge with a soft spot for dirty cops, Bergmann was sentenced to only one day in jail with time served earlier this month despite pleading guilty to perjury which is punishable by one to seven years in prison.
“Considering the crime that the defendant committed, I do find a six month incarceration… would be unduly harsh,” said Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun in rejecting even a six-month sentence, according to the New York Daily News.
Meanwhile, the victim in this case, Pedro Barbosa, was convicted of attempted assault in the first degree and was facing up to 15 years in prison when the public defender hired an investigator to look deeper into the case.
The investigator came across surveillance video from a nearby business which showed Barbosa never came close to striking Bergmann with his car. The video is posted below.
According to the Washington Post:
Barbosa, 44, concedes that he has made mistakes in his life. First and foremost, he has a drug problem, which has led to arrests for possession, though he says he is now in treatment. The drug problem made it difficult for him to stay employed, which caused him to fall behind on his child support payments. That led to a suspension of his driver’s license, which only exacerbated his difficulty finding a job. When he hit bottom, he resorted to stealing rolls of quarters from the laundry rooms of apartment buildings to support his drug habit. But he has never been accused of using violence or a weapon.
At a little after 12:30 a.m. on Feb. 1, Barbosa drove to visit a friend in the Sunset Park neighborhood in Brooklyn. He found an open spot, and parallel parked his car. He then noticed a black, unmarked SUV pull up alongside him. Barbosa immediately recognized it as an unmarked police vehicle driven by NYPD officer Michael Bergman and his partner (whose name has not been released). He recognized them because those two particular officers seemed to have it out for Barbosa. They knew about his drug problem, and knew about his suspended license. They had stopped him more times than he could count, Barbosa claims, and had yet to find a charge that would stick.
“It seemed like every time, 24/7, no matter what, if I’m anywhere, they were there,” Barbosa says. “They would follow me wherever I went. They’d tell me, ‘We’re going to get you off the streets.'” Bergman and his partner were part of the NYPD’s Grand Larceny Division. Barbosa’s suspended license then gave Bergman carte blanche to pull Barbosa over any time he saw him behind the wheel. “If they found anything in my car, even a screwdriver, they’d arrest me for possessing burglary tools,” he says.
The police SUV pulled up along side Barbosa and its flashers flickered on. Given the time of night and his prior experience with the officers, Barbosa panicked. He put his car in drive, steered out of the parking spot and drove away.
The surveillance video at the top of this piece, which was obtained by an investigator for Barbosa’s lawyer, backs all of this up. Barbosa did drive off, but at no time was either officer at risk of being struck by Barbosa’s car.
But Bergman would later tell the grand jury an entirely different story. “The defendant locked eyes with me, turned the car into reverse, floored the vehicle into reverse approximately seven feet,” Bergman said. “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.”
Anybody who has read this site for a while knows that it is not uncommon for cops to claim they had to kill somebody because they were about to be run over when video shows that was not the case so we can only imagine how many innocent people have been sent to prison on this lie.
In this case, if it weren’t for Scott Hechinger, a public defender with the Brooklyn Defender Services, Barbosa would be sitting in prison while Bergmann would still be destroying lives with his lies.
Most public defenders’ offices do not have the resources to go the extra mile for defendants as was done in this case. But even then, Barbosa still spent five months in jail.
But none of that mattered to Judge Danny Chun who has a history of sparing cops prison as Hechinger pointed out on Twitter.
From the New York Post last month:
A former NYPD sergeant who shot a man in the face and then tampered with evidence was sentenced Thursday to five years of probation.
Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun agreed to give Ritchard Blake the slap-on-the-wrist sentence when he copped to an evidence tampering charge in October, and made it official Thursday.
Blake, 40, was caught on tape on Aug. 2, 2018, on an East New York street firing two rounds at Thavone Santana’s jaw, planting a knife next to Santana’s torso and then returning to the scene to retrieve the blade.
From the New York Post in August:
The Brooklyn judge who gave zero jail time to two former NYPD officers — despite their admitting they had sex with a teen in their custody — declared in court that “both sides” had committed crimes.
Prosecutors had asked Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun to send ex-cops Eddie Martins and Richard Hall to the slammer for one to three years.
But the judge said from the bench that while the cops took a bribe — sex from an in-custody suspect, who they then set free — the accuser could also be charged with offering a bribe.
“In this particular case … the other party offering a bribe could also be charged and could also be guilty of offering a bribe or giving a bribe,” Chun said, according to a court transcript.
From the CBC in 2016:
A former police officer who shot an unarmed man to death in a darkened stairwell was spared prison time Tuesday, and a judge reduced his manslaughter conviction to a lesser charge in a case that became a flashpoint for police accountability.
Peter Liang was sentenced to five years’ probation and 800 hours of community service in the 2014 shooting of Akai Gurley, who was walking down a public housing stairway when Liang, a rookie officer, fired a bullet into the dark — by accident after being startled, he said. The bullet ricocheted and killed Gurley, 28.
Speaking softly, Liang told the court he never meant to fire and apologized to Gurley’s family.
“My life is forever changed,” he added. “I hope you give me a chance to rebuild it.”
Liang, 28, is the first New York City police officer convicted in an on-duty shooting in 11 years. A jury found him guilty this winter of a manslaughter charge carrying up to 15 years in prison.
But Brooklyn state Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun reduced the offence Tuesday to criminally negligent homicide, which carries up to four years in prison. He said prosecutors hadn’t met the legal burden for the manslaughter charge: proving that Liang consciously disregarded a substantial, unjustifiable risk of death.
However, Judge Chun did not show that same compassion in the case of an 18-year-man who set fire to a mattress leading to the death of a responding NYPD officer who died of smoke inhalation.
From the New York Post in 2016:
The Coney Island teen convicted of setting a fire that killed an NYPD officer and seriously injured his partner was sentenced Tuesday to 19 years to life on felony murder charges.
Marcell Dockery, 18, sat stone-faced as Brooklyn Supreme Court Judge Danny Chun handed down the sentence for the April 2014 blaze that left Officer Dennis Guerra dead and Officer Rosa Rodriguez with permanent injuries.
Guerra’s widow Cathy and Rodriguez sat in the courtroom among a blue sea of uniformed officers.
Dockery was just 16 when he admitted to cops on video that he set a mattress on fire on the 13th floor of a Surf Avenue high-rise because he was “bored.”
“I didn’t mean for the whole fire to come,” Dockery said in the recording played for jurors. “I thought I blew it out all the way. I started walking down the hallway, I turn around and the whole mattress was on fire.”
Perhaps the judge gets intimidated by the “blue sea of uniformed officers” that show up to these hearings. That is the point of showing up in mass, after all.
Although the minimum sentence for perjury is one year, prosecutors asked for six months, apparently knowing of Chun’s reputation of allowing dirty cops to walk. But even that was too much for the judge.
The conviction led to Bergmann’s dismissal from the NYPD, however, so only time will tell if he is hired by another agency in the future. He will be on probation for the next four years.
“I deeply regret my actions and all the pain it’s caused. I’m remorseful and I just want to put it behind me,” he told the court.
In other words, he deeply regrets getting caught.