Police Abuse

An NYPD Cop Was Sentenced to a Day in Jail for a Lie That Nearly Doomed a Man to 15 Years in Prison

The judge said six months in jail for the cop's perjury would be "unduly harsh."

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Michael Bergmann of the New York Police Department (NYPD) testified that Pedro Barbosa intentionally attempted to run him over with his vehicle. Barbosa faced a minimum of 15 years in prison if convicted. When video surveillance didn't match the officer's story, Bergmann was indicted for perjury. This week, a judge sentenced him to one day in jail and four years probation.

The Washington Post reports that Barbosa has struggled with drugs; thanks to a series of possession arrests, he lost his job, his ability to pay child support, and, finally, his driver's license. In a low moment, Barbosa stole rolls of quarters to purchase drugs. Bergmann and Barbosa were well-acquainted with each other, and a contentious relationship grew out of Bergmann's rather obsessive desire to get Barbosa off the streets.

Scott Hechinger, senior attorney at the Brooklyn Defender Services and Barbosa's public defender, says Bergmann followed Barbosa around and stopped him multiple times in an effort to implicate him in a crime. Bergmann was unsuccessful each time.

Their paths crossed once again after midnight on February 1, 2019. When Barbosa parked his car on the street, Bergmann and an unnamed NYPD officer pulled up beside him, knowing he had a suspended license. Barbosa recognized Bergmann and drove off.

Bergmann's version of events is more dramatized. In his story, he and his partner exited their SUV. Barbosa then allegedly reversed his car quickly, purposefully positioned the car where Bergmann was between the headlights, and slammed on the gas to try to run him over. Bergmann claimed that he managed to jump out of the way before he was hit, landing on the ground and scratching his elbow.

Bergmann not only included this tale in his police report but swore before a jury that his account was true. Painted as a violent offender, Barbosa was convicted of attempted assault in the first degree.

Fortunately for Barbosa, surveillance footage from a mechanic shop captured the interaction.

Hechinger wrote a motion to dismiss the charges and sent both the motion and the footage to the prosecutor. "He was speechless," Hechinger recalls. The prosecutor was appalled that Bergmann lied about "something so egregious." 

As a result, Bergmann was charged with perjury and pleaded guilty. He was also fired.

This week Judge Danny Chun sentenced Bergmann to a single day in jail, which he has already served, plus four years' probation. Prosecutors initially asked for a sentence of a year in jail. The district attorney's office believed they would have better luck getting Chun to agree to six months in jail. Regardless, Chun considered six months "unduly harsh."

So one day in jail plus probation for a lie that nearly cost a man 15 years of his life. Contrast that with the fate of low-income people trapped behind bars because of expensive pre-trial bail. Though the law considers them innocent until proven guilty, they often spend far more time in jail than Bergmann while waiting for their day in court. In one infamous case, Kalief Browder spent three years in Rikers Island without a trial because his bail was set at an unaffordable $3,000.

"It isn't that I wish greater harshness," Hechinger says. "It's that I wish that the majority of the people coming through the system—mostly poor people, predominantly black and Latino—were treated with the same kind of individualized justice, due process, and care and consideration for their lives that police officers are."

This may be a pattern with Chun. Hechinger has tweeted several examples of the judge sentencing NYPD officers to probation for such offenses as having sex with a teen in exchange for her freedom, shooting a man in the mouth out of jealousy and then tampering with the evidence, and shooting a man who was walking in a stairwell.

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  1. The penalty for perjury should be whatever penalty could have been levied on the person being framed.

    1. Not if the public’s faith in law enforcement would be weakened by the sentence. Also, we should bear in mind that anything longer than a day for a lie is simply too long a sentence, unless the lie took the form of some kind of inappropriate “parody,” in which case six months would be about right. Here at NYU, we also support the criminalization of libel, but we would be very hesitant to send anyone to jail for trying to enforce the law, even if the means used were a little unusual. See the documentation of our nation’s leading criminal “satire” case at:

      https://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

      1. do you REALLLY think “the public’s faith in law snforcement would be weakened by one sentence as compared to a different one for the same incident? Get real. ANYONE reading that one of Noo Yawk’s Fahnist actually perjured himself to put a commoner in prison for fifteen years would become VERY angry and distructful of all of NYPD’s Boyzin Bloo.
        I know a few personal accounts of those pirates in government issued costumes making life for a New York resident a hell, and costing him thousands of dollars… for driving his car down the street in full complaince with every law on the books. And they got off with their crimes. My friend did not have the money to press a lawsuit over their abuse. Nor did he wish to rile them up so as to become a target for their certain revenge. Da Boyz perteck they own ya know.. and he’p each other out when it comes to evening up the score. So he made a deal with the owner of his long-rent controlled aparment, got a HUGE wad of cash, and moved to another state. Buh bye Boizin Bloo……
        The sad reality is this sentende DECREASES the public’s confidence in NYPD. As it stands, this reinforces the meme that they can do what they want, and not get caugtht, and if they do, there is a nearly free ‘get Out of Jail Free card as soon as they walk past Park Place. Now had this sick excuse of a “judge” dealt the perjuror a suitable sentence that would have gone a LONG ways toward changing the public’s view of NYPD. Hey, someone finallly got their backside punted hard for lying to frame someone. Maybe there IS a faint ray of hope?

        I will not willinlgy enter New York City again, nor will I even fly through New York as a connecting airport, either JFK or La Guardia. ESPECIALLY if I have lawfully possessed firearms legally transported in my checked baggage. I’ve read some true life accounts of what NYPD can do/have done to others in that law abiding class of citizen. No thanks. NYC will not even get their share of the airport taxes involved in landing/taking off there.

        1. If for any reason your airliner is grounded in NYC and you have legally checked firearms (legal for you to possess in your state of origin and in your state of destination), you will be required to take possession of your checked baggage and automatically be in illegal possession of a firearm not registered with NYC and face a felony criminal charge with a 3.5 year minimum sentence. Of course there are NYC attorneys familiar with working the system and for a mere $5,000 or so, months later you will be free, with a felony arrest of illegal possession of a firearm on your permanent record. DO keep copies of the court disposition of your charge. Arrests and charges will show up on background checks. Court disposition may not show. Even on a mistaken identity arrest. Even on a BS charge dismissed by a judge. Even on a charge tried and acquitted by jury. The NICS database is full of useless outdated information. In the current War on Guns, states, counties and cities are given economic incentive by the federales to dig up decades old incomplete records to add to the slushpile, arrest and charge records more likely to be extant in the records than judicial dispositions (final determination of guilt or not guilt).

          And the No Fly List that kept Sen Ted Kennedy from flying 5 times because an IRA terrorist used the nom de guerre of T. Kennedy? That’s full of false matches too. (Senator Kennedy was advised to book his flights using his middle Moore or his actual name Edward to avoid matching on T. Wow. I feel so safe knowing the No Fly List is that efficient.)

          1. They cannot require you to take possession of your checked baggage. If you are not tricked into doing so out of ignorance, which is the usual pitfall, they have no hold on you.

    2. that is EXACTLY the biblical sentence for “bearing false witness against another”/ Lying, in a shorter word.

      If anyone bears false testimony against another, the liar must bear the sentence imposed, or that would have been imposed if that testimony had been believed. That sentence is not dependent upon the accused actually receiving the sentned. In this case, since it was the dirty copper’s lie that got him arrested in the first place the lying scum cop MUST serve the time the accused servied in jail because he could not afford the bail, he must also restore any financial losses incurred by way of being behind bars, and then the dirty copper must serve the entire sentence the accused WOULD have served had the case not been busted open by the video that surfaced.

      Oh, and my hat is off bigtime to the guys at the shop who stepped up and made the video available to the accused’s family. THAT tape is what prevented him being sentenced.

      ANy bets there won’t be some sort of “payback” for the guys at the shop for spoining the copper’s dirty little game?

      Only when liars are made to suffer the biblically prescribed consequences
      for such perjury will such incidents end. And that can’t happen soon enouth. Same rules should apply for administrative hearings and civil matters.

    3. That’s the way it worked in the Old Testament. See, e.g., the story of Susanna and the elders. (Please, no Prots telling me that story isn’t really part of the OT.)

  2. …Bergmann followed Barbosa around and stopped him multiple times in an effort to implicate him in a crime. Bergmann was unsuccessful each time.

    For hate’s sake, he spits his last falsehood at thee.

  3. “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”

    Police are an army of occupation waging multiple wars (declared by Congress) against the people of the United States. Judge Chun should be arrested by the local sheriff and brought to the harshest justice possible under the law.

    1. Police ARE the standing army the founders detested as an abomination.

    2. So TWO days in jail?? You monster!

  4. Hechinger has tweeted several examples of the judge sentencing NYPD officers to probation for such offenses as having sex with a teen in exchange for her freedom, shooting a man in the mouth out of jealousy and then tampering with the evidence, and shooting a man who was walking in a stairwell.

    Wait, Chun was the judge in all of these cases? How does that work? The number of NYPD officers criminally charged each year has to be in the very low single digits to begin with and there must be dozens of trial court judges in NYC.

    1. The police union must know how to get the judge they want…

  5. The prosecutor was appalled that Bergmann lied about “something so egregious.”

    Shocked, *SHOCKED*, even.

  6. I for one demand we restore this officer’s voting rights immediately. Not doing so represents a travesty of our justice system.

    I’m also glad to see sentencing reform efforts are getting a serious trial run here.

    1. Further, I hope he wasn’t subjected to the appalling American Bail system.

  7. When all participants of a “system” are feeding from the same nose-bag, free from competition — and are allowed (by your neighbors and friends — hopefully not you) to
    • Make the laws,
    • Enforce the laws,
    • Prosecute the laws,
    • Hire the prosecutors,
    • License the “defense” attorneys,
    • Pay the “judges”,
    • Build the jails,
    • Contract jails out to private entities,
    • Employ and pay the wardens,
    • Employ and pay the guards,
    • Employ and pay the parole officers,
    One can’t honestly call it a “justice” system. It’s a system of abject tyranny.

    1. Well, remember, it is named the ‘criminal’ justice system; nothing in there about the victim getting justice is there?

    2. For much the same reason, the concept of “separation of powers” is a risible travesty. Cooperation benefits all government players way more than competition.

  8. The USA is a full blown police state by any reasonable measure. In this case even the prosecutors had to draw a line. But judge Chun made sure the blue line was not breached. We can only hope that their is a special place in hell for vermin like Chen. Or lacking that, a place in a well lubricated and fully functional wood chipper. Not that I would personally advocate for the latter option for this disgusting piece of shit.

    1. You would soil the chipper with this scumbag.

    2. I’d consider it an interesting exercise to see what Chun would do if somebody had his dog SWATted… if I didn’t love dogs so much.

  9. The arbitrator will award him damages for the injuries to his wrist from all that slapping.

  10. Hey the boys in blue suffered through 6 months of cop school. They should be allowed to murder, rape and rob at will!

    1. I always enjoy when they asked me, “Are you some kind of a lawyer?” I usually reply, “It’s quite possible that you and I graduated from the same law school.”

  11. We need to have honest police. As long as we have them policing personal habits (drug laws) instead of real crime, the incidence of police perjury will continue to be high. Presumably, with real crime, they might care a little about whether the person is guilty or not. I would have given the lying officer 15 years, the same thing he tried to give Barbosa. Now, thanks to Chun, every cop in New York knows that the penalty for lying under oath to destroy another person’s life is one day.

    1. Worse, now every cop in New York will find it that much harder to get LEGITIMATE testimony believed, so a lot of people will end up getting hurt or killed by thugs who would have been off the streets if juries trusted the cops to uphold their oaths.

  12. The judge needs to be executed. And the minimum sentence for the thug with a badge should be 30 years. Twice what his perjury would have cost the victim if not for the video.

    1. “…minimum sentence for the thug with a badge should be 30 years.”

      Hear, hear.

      Deterrence is obviously a one way street. The War on Cops is actually The War by Cops. Cops must have a special skill at selecting pacifists as victims. Like most successful bullies.

  13. Cops (and all other public officials) should be held to a standard higher than that of those they hold authority over.

    Note that prosecutors usually have a close relationship with cops, and this prosecutor wanted a year in the bucket as penalty. This might stem from righteous indignation over the crime committed, or it might be that the prosecutor doesn’t like being played. And they’re also no doubt trying to imagine how many cases will be revisited from over the years that the scumbag spent as an officer and a detective.

    The year would be short enough. The judge should be removed from the bench. Wonder how many police union dollars have gone into a certain unidentified bank account . . ?

  14. History lessons about the tree of liberty and Nathan Hale must have been scrubbed from the pubic school textbooks.

    No student should receive a high school diploma without being able to demonstrate sufficient knowledge of civics. A Patrick Henry type version and not some liberal pansy.

    1. TO THE BARRICADES!!!

    2. I recall having Civics in junior high school in the 1960s and reading “The Man Without a Country” (Edward Everett Hale) in American Literature class.
      I recall in UCMJ class in Basic Training in the 1960s being instructed I had a duty to question unlawful orders, and that court martial for mutiny against an unlawful order would be better than a trial for war crime for obeying an unlawful order.

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