Clever Criminal or Crappy Cops?


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.'"