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Judge Agrees to Let Kenneth Moreno Go Free During Appeal

By DNAinfo Staff on August 8, 2011 7:48pm

MANHATTAN — Hours after former police officer Kenneth Moreno was sentenced to a year behind bars by a supreme court judge, an appellate court judge granted Moreno's lawyers' request to allow him to go free on bail pending the results of his appeal.

The rapid turn of events came Monday afternoon, when New York State Appellate Court Judge Nelson Roman agreed to allow Moreno to post $125,000 bail after an emergency hearing just hours after the officer's sentencing in Manhattan Supreme Court.

Before becoming a judge, Roman spent time as a NYPD officer in the South Bronx from 1982 - 1989, before becoming a Brooklyn prosecutor, according to his bio.  

Defense attorney Chad Seigel said Monday evening that the former cop's family was working to get him freed from Rikers Island where he had been sent from the jail adjacent to the courthouse following his sentencing.

Moreno, 43, and his partner, Franklin Mata, 29, were each acquitted of rape, burglary and falsifying business records but convicted of three counts of official misconduct for lying about where they were during repeated visits to the accuser's apartment. They also failed to call an ambulance for her.

Moreno's defense team said they intend to argue in their appeal that his conviction should be tossed out because the jury was improperly instructed by the trial judge on the the official misconduct laws.

Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Gregory Carro had sentenced Moreno to a year in city jail, the maximum allowed by law, Monday morning. Carro ripped into the ex-officer and accused him of lying on the witness stand at trial about the Dec. 7, 2008 incident.

The woman said she woke up to Moreno having sex with her while his partner was also in the apartment. Moreno testified that he was there to counsel her on her binge drinking and to keep her company. He said they did not have sex and only "snuggled."

Seigel argued in appellate court on Monday that his team has solid grounds for appeal and that Moreno should be released while the case is argued on the appellate level.

He said the trial judge never defined what it meant to "benefit" from committing official misconduct and that when prosecutors said not having to work was a benefit they were misinterpreting the law.

"The benefit can't be not doing your job and that's an issue here," Seigel told the judge in arguing for Moreno's release.

To keep Moreno behind bars, likely for nine months with good behavior factored in, would mean he would serve his time on the conviction before his appellate case is litigated. 

Moreno also faces an open misdemeanor heroin possession case for a small amount of drugs that was found in a locker he shared with another officer. His attorneys deny the drugs belonged to him. He is due back in court on Sept. 12 to set a trial date on that charge.

Mata, who was not sentenced Monday because of a scheduling conflict with his attorney, is expected to be sentenced on Wednesday.