Second Police Officer Cleared in Rape Case Jailed for Misconduct

By DNAinfo Staff on August 10, 2011 11:06am  | Updated on August 10, 2011 12:47pm

Franklin Mata apologized for his actions and asked for leniency at his sentencing Wednesday.
Franklin Mata apologized for his actions and asked for leniency at his sentencing Wednesday.
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DNAinfo/David Torres

MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — An ex-cop who was cleared of raping an East Village woman was sentenced to 60 days in jail for misconduct on Wednesday by a judge who hammered him for covering up the crimes of his "morally bankrupt" partner. 

Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Gregory Carro told former East Village rookie officer Franklin Mata, 29, that he had several opportunities to stop Kenneth Moreno, 43, from going through with his "deplorable" intentions of taking advantage of a drunk woman they'd been called to help out of a cab on Dec. 7, 2008. 

"Forever you will be a disgrace to police officers. Forever you will have that scarlet letter shining on your back, and that's serious punishment," Carro told Mata Wednesday.

Carro said Mata dug his own grave by lying to protect Moreno. But he said Mata's error in judgement wasn't as severe as Moreno's. 

"For some reason you continued to carry your partner's bags throughout the trial. For some reason you went with this joint defense with defendant Moreno, which quite frankly I don't understand," Carro said.

Mata, who had just 1 1/2 years on the force to Moreno's 17 years "certainly drew the short straw when you got [Moreno] as your partner," the judge said.

Carro sentenced Moreno to a year in jail, but said Wednesday that Mata deserved more leniency than his senior partner because his involvement was less egregious.

He sentenced him to six weeks in prison and three years probation, but Mata doesn't have to turn himself in until Sept. 12, and his lawyers said they'll file an appeal before then, which could mean he'll remain free on bail pending the outcome of the appeal.

Both officers had been acquitted of rape, burglary, and falsifying police records and convicted of only of three misdemeanor counts a piece of official misconduct for visiting the accuser's apartment without permission while they were supposed to be on their beat.

At trial, Mata testified he and Moreno never talked about what happened in the bedroom with the accuser.

Moreno had testified that he merely "snuggled" with the drunken, undressed woman because she asked of his comfort and company. He also said he and his partner made several visits to her apartment because he wanted to counsel her on the dangers of binge drinking.

But on Wednesday, Carro accused Mata of going along with a story Moreno concocted by pretending not to know the Moreno placed a phony 911 call, disguising his voice and pretending there was a homeless trespasser on woman's block, which the veteran cop later admitted was a bogus report designed to buy them another trip to the woman's East 13th Street apartment.

Mata also swore he didn't know Moreno made the call and said he was sleeping on the woman's couch and never learned of what happened in the bedroom because the partners didn't discuss it. 

"You knew his motivations were morally bankrupt," Carro said, suggesting he did not believe any of Mata's claims of ignorance to Moreno's intentions.

When offered the chance to speak Wednesday, Mata, who apologized for his actions and asked for leniency from the judge.

"I didn't think this one night would end up costing me two and a half years of my life as well as my career," a nervous and choked up Mata read to the court. "I have endured plenty during this time."

"I'm sorry," he said, adding, "I never meant for anyone to get hurt that night."

He said he became a police officer out of a desire to help people and is devastated that "now it's all gone."

Mata and Moreno were each fired by the department on May 26, the day of the verdict. They had been suspended with pay for more than two years.

The accuser, now a 29-year-old fashion industry employee, did not attend the sentencing on Wednesday, which was supposed to take place on Monday but had to be postponed because of a scheduling conflict with Mata's lawyer.

The woman had attended Moreno's sentencing Monday when Carro sentenced him to a year in jail and accused him of violating the public trust and lying on the witness stand.

 She wept through the hearing.

Moreno was granted a release on bail pending appeal just hours later, but had to spend a night in jail because of a paperwork delay.

Prosecutors Wednesday said Mata's testimony at trial that he didn't know what his partner was in the accuser's bedroom with her was "preposterous."

Assistant District Attorney Randolph Clarke argued Wednesday that Mata's "prior status as a police officer warrants not an ounce of leniency," and asked he be locked up for two years in jail, the maximum allowed under the law.  

"Mata testified to his story that can be summarized as hear no evil see no evil and speak no evil," Clarke said.

Mata's attorney, Edward Mandery, aid he'll be filing a notice of appeal on the conviction. He will also ask the appeals court to grant Mata a stay of execution before Sept. 12 so that he may also remain free on bail pending the outcome of his appeal.

Mandery said his client's sentence was fair and said he was "pleased to see {the judge) separated the conduct" of the former officers when mulling their punishments.