TECH, 'LIES' & AUDIO
MP3 TEEN NAILS COP
By DENISE BUFFA and HASANI GITTENS
December 7, 2007 -- A teen shooting suspect's quick decision to record his interrogation with a hidden MP3 device has played out as a perjury case against a veteran detective and a plea deal for himself, authorities said yesterday.
Testifying at the trial of Erik Crespo in April, Detective Christopher Perino, 42, emphatically stated that he hadn't questioned the then-17-year-old about a Christmas Day 2005 shooting in The Bronx before the kid's mother and aunt showed up at the 44th Precinct station.
But Crespo had secretly pressed record on his MP3 player - a small device used to download music from the Internet - hidden in his pocket and captured the bullying interrogation.
"You don't want to give a statement - I don't give a (expletive)," Perino said, according to a transcript. "But just remember I'm never gonna have your side of the story when I walk into a court of law."
Without the statement, Perino warned, the court would rely on security video and the victim's version of the shooting.
"He's the victim," said Perino, a 19-year veteran. "He's a scumbag, but he's the victim. You following me? He can go up there . . . and tell them whatever the (expletive) he wants to tell them."
Crespo's lawyer, Mark DeMarco, kept the recording under wraps until he cross-examined Perino at the trial.
"I couldn't believe my ears," DeMarco said.
After the recording surfaced, Perino claimed he was "half-dead," "overworked" and just didn't recall talking to the kid that long.
"I'm overworked . . . Anybody who knows me knows I'm walking around half-dead," he told prosecutors as he pleaded not guilty to 12 counts of perjury yesterday.
He explained that he was working two jobs, his wife was sick, he has four kids, and he was juggling as many as 40 cases at the time, based on a transcript.
"This is the worst," he said. "I've never - I can't believe I got myself into this."
Crespo had faced up to 25 years in jail had he been convicted of attempted murder.
But after Perino's credibility came into question, prosecutors offered Crespo a seven-year sentence for pleading to weapons possession, which he accepted.
"These are very serious charges that put the safety of all law-abiding citizens at risk, because they undermine the integrity and foundation of the entire criminal justice system," Bronx DA Robert Johnson said.
"This indictment hopefully will send a strong message that anyone in law enforcement who engages in illegal conduct of this nature will be dealt with to the full extent of the law."
Perino - whose pension is jeopardized because of his felony arrest - was released yesterday after posting a $15,000 personal recognizance bond. If convicted, he faces up to seven years behind bars on each count.
||Truth in Justice