Police

Clever Criminal or Crappy Cops?

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Yesterday Jerry Ramrattan, the private investigator who framed his ex-girlfriend, Seemona Sumasar, for a series of imaginary armed robberies after she accused him of rape, was sentenced to 32 years in prison by a State Supreme Court judge in Queens. Imposing the maximum sentence allowed by law, Justice Richard Buchter called Ramrattan, who was convicted of rape as well as charges stemming from the scheme that resulted in Sumasar's arrest, "a diabolical conniver and sinister manipulator" who "shamelessly exploited the criminal justice system." But Buchter also suggested that the system—which put Sumasar behind bars for seven months while she awaited trial, during which time she was separated from her 12-year-old daughter and lost her restaurant and her home—was easier to exploit than it should have been:

The Queens district attorney's office and the Nassau County district attorney's office had insisted on Ms. Sumasar's guilt up until she was freed just weeks before her own robbery trial was set to begin. Ms. Sumasar filed a civil suit in December against the New York City Police Department and the Nassau County Police Department for negligence leading to her wrongful imprisonment.

Justice Buchter railed against the Nassau County police, who had wrongly imprisoned Ms. Sumasar, saying that it did not take "a Sherlock Holmes" to deduce that a 5-foot-2 former Wall Street analyst with no criminal record would not have held people up at gunpoint.

He chastised the police for their egregious handling of the case, saying detectives had "turned a blind eye" to Ms. Sumasar's protestations that she was innocent and had too easily been taken in by Mr. Ramrattan.

"The police were duped by liars by whom they had a right to be suspicious, and as a result a rape victim was framed by her rapist," the judge said. "She was victimized by the rapist and then again by the criminal justice system."

The Daily News has more:

Buchter questioned how detectives could have bought the tale that Ramrattan made up for his accomplices, especially while the rape charges were pending.

All investigators had to do was look at the website Ramrattan kept for his business Most Wanted Inc. where he promised that he could "fix anything, any time," the judge noted.

"Is it really surprising that he would try to fix his own case?" Buchter wondered. "You didn't have to be Sherlock Holmes to wonder if something was fishy."

Sumasar, who had a strong alibi for one of the alleged robberies, repeatedly told the authorities that Ramrattan had set her up, but they did not believe her. In the end, she was released only because an informer told police about Ramrattan's scheme and gave them his cell phone number. They found he had made multiple calls to people who claimed Sumasar had robbed them, and at that point the "witnesses" recanted. The New York Times, which put the story of Sumasar's ordeal on its front page last July, reports that "legal experts said the case was a cautionary tale that illustrated the ease with which the justice system can be manipulated by someone who understands police procedure and is adept at telling lies." And how did Ramrattan gain the arcane knowledge he used to dupe law enforcement officials in Nassau County and New York City?  "Partly from watching crime dramas like 'C.S.I.'"

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  1. Naturally, with our presumption of guilt, these things are going to happen.

    1. Omelettes, eggs, etc.

      1. And thus were ten million people slaughtered in the Great Ukrainian Famine.
        If only they had actual omelettes.

        1. Huh? You ever tried slaughtering a bunch of people with omelettes? It doesn’t work.

          1. You just have to use the right mushrooms.

          2. Shell fragments can get a lot of them.

  2. the ease with which the justice system can be manipulated by someone who understands police procedure and is adept at telling lies

    And where do you suppose one could find people who understand police procedure, etc.?

    1. I believe one must have law enforcement experience before becoming a private investigator.

      1. It may vary by state, but in Texas, you don’t. I’ve got a friend who runs his own PI firm and he has zero LE experience, as did his father before him.

        You just have to get a license from the state and take a course on what you’re not allowed to do.

    2. Somalia?

  3. the ease with which the justice system can be manipulated by someone who understands police procedure and is adept at telling lies

    Good thing cops and prosecutors are so honest *snort*, or there could be institutionalized abuse of the system.

    1. I cringed so hard at that state, Sarcasmic, that my skin peeled off my face all on its own, because so many people ACTUALLY BELIEVE THAT.

      God help us.

      1. *statement

      2. I believed it until the first time I actually dealt with a cop. He lied to me and wrote a police report that was a work of fiction.
        Next run-in was watching the cops breaking up an outdoor jam session. I stood with my mouth agape as they smashed instruments and slammed people face first into the side of their van until the white door was red with blood. One runs up at me yelling “You want some?” and I ran away.
        I’m of the belief that people who trust the police have never actually dealt with them.

  4. ” But Buchter also suggested that the system?which put Sumasar behind bars for seven months while she awaited trial, during which time she was separated from her 12-year-old daughter and lost her restaurant and her home?was easier to exploit than it should have been:”

    Requiring the justice system to compensate people who have been in jail awaiting trial for crimes they did not commit would create a greater financial incentive to make sure that if someone is in jail that A. That person is a SERIOUS flight risk. and B. That person is far more likely to be guilty than innocent. Sumasar deserves some serious compensation from the criminal justice system – like enough money to buy a new house and a new restaurant if she wants one.

    1. Ah, but the real issue is, what to name her new tax-payer-funded-settlement-bought restaurant?

      “Eat It, Bitches”?

    2. And it should come right out of the Prosecutor’s budget. Yes it will ultimately be tax dollars but prohibit allocation of funds for fines and require that prosecutors’ compensation be one source of the cut budgets.

      1. And it should come right out of the Prosecutor’s budget salary.

        1. And it should come right out of the Prosecutor’s budget salary.

          OMG, DUDE! That would…like…totally cause a chilling effect and stuff. Prosecutors and police would be…like…afraid and stuff to do their jobs and America would turn into Somalia and stuff.

          Is that what you want?

        2. And it should come right out of the Prosecutor’s budget salary.

          And if that’s not enough to compensate his victim, then it should come out of his bank account, retirement accounts, and ultimately whatever other assets he’s got.

  5. a 5-foot-2 former Wall Street analyst with no criminal record would not have held people up at gunpoint

    It IS a tough economy.

    1. Sure is! I hear David Vitter is trolling for amateurs these days.

  6. Buchter questioned how detectives could have bought the tale that Ramrattan made up for his accomplices, especially while the rape charges were pending.

    From this morning’s links comments:

    wylie|1.5.12 @ 9:37AM|#

    Around the time that convictions became more important than justice.

    1. The public demands blood. They re-elect DAs who serve up the most heads on platters – and they [the public] do not care about the justice of it all as long as it’s the “wrong kind of person” (i.e. not a white, christian, legal citizen).

      I literally get ulcers every couple of years when judges come up for re-election here in Texas. Their entire campaigns are based on competing with eachother for issuing the most death sentences.

      1. If the cops arrest someone they must be guilty of something.

        Even if it’s not what they were charged, they’re guilty of something.

        1. Shit, there are so many laws now, how can any of us not be guilty of something?

          Like in my case, for instance: I’m guilty of multiple rapes and murders.

          1. Recruiter: Have you ever been convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor? That’s robbery, rape, car theft, that sort of thing.
            John Winger: Convicted? No

  7. Naturally, with our presumption of guilt, these things are going to happen.

    Better ten thousand innocents rot in jail than one guilty man go free.

    1. unless the guilty are cops and prosecutors….in which case we put the guilty cops and prosecutors in jail…..
      but that would take an honorable, diligent, justice seeking santa claus/easter bunny – which only exists in fairly tails!!!

      1. satna claus/easter bunnny = ethical prosecutor.
        How outrageous must be before the legal system, just out of embarassment, finally decides they have to disbar, prosecute, convict some of these police and prosecutors?
        RHETORICAL question…

        1. Q: Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, an ethical prosecutor, and a blind quadruple amputee are competing in a 100 meter dash for a $10,000 prize. Who wins?

          A: The blind quadruple amputee, because the other three are imaginary.

  8. “You didn’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to wonder if something was fishy”

    Hmmmm….apparently, you did have to have normal intelligence, and maybe just an ounce of skepticism….which I guess I am cynical about the police and prosecutors having.

  9. “If she wasn’t guilty, why would the police arrest her? She certainly looks guilty, sitting there in the DEFENDANT chair.”

  10. It’s easy to second-guess the cops aftr all the facts have come out.

    I do employment-related investigations all the time. When you see hoofprints on the ground, you don’t go looking for zebras. When one person with a lot to lose says he’s being set up, and 3-4 others with no skin in the game say he’s lying, it’s safer to believe the many rather than the one.

    It’s common that some employee about to be fired tells me “this is a set up! Management got 3, 4, 5, other people to lie just to get rid of me!” In my experience, this never turns out to be the case. I generally flip these assertions back on the employee: “If you want me to believe that 3 or more people are working in concert and risking their careers just to get revenge on you, when only one of them has clear motive to do so, you need to show me some proof.” They never can because they are lying their asses off to save their jobs. Inevitably, further investigation reveals documents that prove the fired employee was about to be fired before the alleged conspiracy.

    That said, a few months back, one of my colleagues had a typical “It’s a conpiracy of lies, I tells ya, a conspiracy!” case where one of conspirators admitted that a manger had pressured her to make up a sexual harassment charge in order to get the victim employee fired. We were all surprised, but this was a zebra case, not a horse case.

    1. “It’s easy to second-guess the cops aftr all the facts have come out”

      Even easier to first guess them before the facts came out.

      Of course, you’re obviously trolling, and it’s poor trolling at that.

    2. “When you see hoofprints on the ground, you don’t go looking for zebras.”

      And yet, in the pursuit of an armed robber, the police did exactly that, which was the point of the article you seem to think your idiotic anecdote refutes.

    3. They didn’t go looking for zebras. Several witnesses pointed to the girl. She said the several witnesses were lying. The cops believed the many–none of which were her accused rapist–instead of her.

      1. The cops checked out the *informant’s* story about how the witnesses/alleged robbery victims had been bribed and told by Ramrattan to claim that Sumasar had robbed them. They did not check out her claims that the witnesses were lying. I wonder why.

        It always helps if you actually investigate crimes rather than just counting up the numbers of people on either side of the story. Criminal justice is not a vote tally. Sorry, but **buzzer sound**, you lose.

        1. Exactly. Knowing the police are more and more likely to do a vote tally than actually investigate is valuable knowledge. Doing a vote tally takes just as much (over)time and has the added benefit of taking a shit ton less effort than investigation. All this guy did was round up enough people beforehand to tip the votes in his favor – which is the exact behavior expected of the police.

        2. The cops checked out the informant’s story but not hers is more than just “vote-tallying.” When the informant was able to corroborate what otherwise seemed like a far-fetched excuse, it lent Sumasar credibility.

          1. what otherwise seemed like a far-fetched excuse

            Always seems like a far-fetched statement until it’s actually investigated. They investigated none of her statements; they sat around on their fat union asses and waited for some other civilian to hand them evidence on a silver platter.

            Perhaps you should look up “investigation” in the dictionary. It does not mean “indict the most obvious person until or unless another civilian comes forward with information we should already have learned ourselves.”

    4. When you see hoofprints on the ground, you don’t go looking for zebras.

      Don’t zebras have hooves?

      1. Aww c’mon, J-Dub, you want the cops to be zoologist in addition to using their goddamn heads once in a while?

        Give ’em a break, toughest job, etc, etc…

      2. When you see hoofprints on the ground, you don’t go looking for zebras.

        I can think of lots of places where that is exactly what you should do.

      3. Glad I’m not the only one that was baffled by the “clever” analogy.

        1. sorry for the confusion. The zebra-hoofprint thing is (or was) a common restatement of occam’s razor (the simplest explanation is usually the best).

          If you see hoofprints outside your door, they could have been made by either a horse or a zebra. Assuming you live outside of Africa, it’s far more likely that they were made by a horse than a zebra. while you cannot logically rule out a zebra, you shouldn’t put all your investigative resources into it.

    5. Here’s a better summary of the set-up this guy pulled off:

      http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes……unishment/

    6. Let me see if I can map your analogy back to the case at hand.

      Person X (Ramrattan, your soon-to-be-ex-employee) is accused of wrongdoing.

      Person X says no, they are being set up, and points to their accuser as the wrongdoer.

      Isn’t it Person X who is sending you off on a zebra hunt at this point? And aren’t you skeptical when the accuser is supposed to have done something completely implausible (like a 5′ 2″ restaurant owner committing armed robbery)?

      Sorry, I’m just not getting it.

      1. X is accused of wrong-doing by several people who have no obvious motive to make fake accusations. The three “victims” did not even know her. However, they could identify her in a police line up, and identify her car and (in two cases) her boyfriend/alleged accomplice.

        To me, that sounds far-fetched. It actually happened, but how many people can coordinate three other indviduals to commit felonies in order to get revenge on their ex? It’s unusual.

        While small women may not be the most likely armed robbers, I think that’s far more common (especially when they have a partner who is a larger male as was the allegation in two of three fake robberies).

        1. What you’re missing Abdul, is that Person X is the one who is initially accused of wrongdoing. You were telling us earlier that retaliatory accusations by a Person X should be treated as zebra hunts.

          And, in this case, Ramrattan was Person X, yet his retaliatory accusations were not treated with extreme skepticism.

          I mean, c’mon. “She accused me of rape, but she’s really the mysterious 5′ 2″ restaurant-owning armed robber”?

          1. What you missed is that Rarattn didn’t make the accusations–he had proxies do it for him, proxies who were not obviously connected to him and who had never met the woman before.

            He provided no evidence to the police directly.

            If this was a case of he-said she said, ti would require more investigation. But it was a case of he and he and he said, then she said a fourth he made this all up.

    7. Abdul,

      This was definitely a case of the police going on a zebra hunt after they saw footprints. Even though there were “eyewitnesses” who identified Sumasar, there were a number of things that should have made the police very skeptical about the situation:

      (a) How many violent street robberies are committed by women, particularly 5’2″ tall East Indian women? I suspect that it a microscopic percentage. That should have caused the police and DA to take a very hard look at the case from the outset.

      (b) There was solid evidence placing Sumasar in Conneticut at the time of one of the alleged robberies. Now you might claim that a clever criminal could stage that, but since the alleged facts of the robberies made them out to be random stickups of people for whatever money they had in their pocket, it would seem bizarre that the robber would go to the extent of faking an alibi in advance of committing the crime.

      (c) The police and DA justified going after Sumasar because they claimed she had the motive to steal to try to keep her struggling restaurant in business. There are very glaring facts that make that an extremely implausible motive. First of all, as I said earlier, the purported robberies were aimed at stealing whatever money the “victims” had in their pockets. It would be virtually impossible to make enough money with that strategy (netting no more than a few hundered dollars per robbery) to keep a business afloat. Second, given that Sumasar’s main line of work prior to opening her restaurant had been in financial analysis, if she was going to commit a crime to keep her business operating, why would she choose violent street robberies rather than some sort of check fraud, tax evasion, or other financial scam that would net her far more money without the risks involved in pulling stickup jobs?

      1. I’m not saying this was a slam-dunk of a case, but I am saying that there was enough evidence to consider Sumasar a suspect.

        (a) aside from the problem of using race and gender as factors in determining liklihood of guilt, the accusers said that the woman was accompanied by a man on two of the three robberies. Probably not that unusual of a pattern.

        (b) Of three robberies, she had an alibis for one. That definitely requires further investigation (and it’s not like police stopped investigating), but it hardly rules her out as a suspect for two.

        (c) Criminals frequently use irrational means to achieve their ends. Why risk your life to hold up a gas station where your average take is only about $200? But people do it every day. The fact that she left a lucrative business to start a restaurant (almost always a marginal business) isn’t indicative of someone making the brightest financial decisions.

    8. I generally flip these assertions back on the employee: “If you want me to believe that 3 or more people are working in concert and risking their careers just to get revenge on you, when only one of them has clear motive to do so, you need to show me some proof.” They never can…

      You do realize that outside of your plastic, corporate-narc world, the burden of proof is on the prosecution, right?

      I think I’ve figured out which end of the zebra you are.

    9. “I do employment-related investigations all the time.”

      I’d think putting people in jail is a bit more serious than “employment-related investigations”.

  11. where are these witnesses that recanted so i may kick their nuts?

  12. “Members of the jury said the guilty verdict was predicated on their acceptance of Ms. Sumasar’s account of being bound with duct tape and viciously raped by Mr. Ramrattan, which apparently gave him a motive to create his ruse.”

    It sounds like he was convicted of rape based on on her word. So perhaps she wasn’t so innocent.

  13. This criminal is really a clever one he did the most serious offenses and he is playing with the legal system but the situation is under control by the police now.

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