The New York Times
N.Y. / Region
at a Youth’s Shooting
By DOMINICK TAO,
nytimes.com from the Web, June 25, 2009
A New York City police detective was
convicted Wednesday of lying on the witness stand in 2007 when he testified in
an attempted-murder trial, a finding that a Bronx judge based largely on a
recording made on an MP3 player by a defendant the officer had questioned.
The detective, Christopher Perino, was convicted of three felony counts of
perjury after the judge found that he had lied while testifying that he had
never questioned the defendant, when, in fact, the recording proved he had.
He faces up to seven years in prison on each count and is scheduled to be
sentenced on Aug. 18.
The judge, State Supreme Court Justice James M. Kindler, allowed Mr. Perino to
remain free on a $15,000 personal recognizance bond until then.
Mr. Perino, who opted for a nonjury trial, was terminated by the Police
Department after his conviction, said Paul J. Browne, the chief police
“We cannot even begin to address the public safety issues in the city if the
testimony on which we must rely is perjured,” the Bronx district attorney,
Robert T. Johnson, said in a statement. “The damage is compounded when the
person who offers untruthful testimony is a police officer who is sworn to
uphold the law.”
Mr. Perino’s lawyer, Murray Richman, said he planned to appeal. “It’s an
upsetting verdict,” he said. “I believe the police officer was just doing
a good job to get a guy with a gun off the street.”
The case originated in December 2005, when Detective Perino was investigating a
shooting in the elevator of a building in the High Bridge neighborhood of the
Bronx. A suspect, Erik Crespo, 17, was arrested six days after the
Mr. Crespo, who was listening to music on an MP3 player when he was brought to a
Bronx station house, used the device to record Detective Perino questioning him,
for an hour and 15 minutes, without his parents or a lawyer present.
During cross-examination at Mr. Crespo’s trial, Mr. Perino denied that any such
interrogation had taken place. According to a transcript of that trial,
when Mark S. DeMarco, Mr. Crespo’s lawyer, asked the detective if he had asked
his client any questions, Mr. Perino replied: “That’s correct. He
Mr. Crespo was sentenced to seven years in prison on a weapons charge; an
attempted-murder charge was dropped when evidence of Mr. Perino’s perjury