Justiz Amerikan Style

Article by Jacob Sullum.


The New York Times tellsthe story of Queens restaurateur Seemona Sumasar, who spent seven months in jail after being framed by her vengeful former boyfriend for a series of armed robberies that never happened. While police and prosecutors portray the ex-boyfriend as a criminal mastermind, Sumasar says the authorities were negligent:

When she insisted to the authorities that he had set her up, they belittled her claims….

“Why would a tiny woman with no criminal record, who worked 10 years on Wall Street, randomly hold up people at gunpoint at night dressed as a policewoman?” [Sumasar’s lawyer] asked….

Sumasar had a strong alibi, including cell phone records showing that calls were made from her phone at a casino in Connecticut on the day of the [imaginary] robbery….

Prosecutors said the scheme unraveled in December 2010—just weeks before Ms. Sumasar was to go on trial—when an informer told the police that Mr. Ramrattan [the ex-boyfriend] had staged the plot. The informer gave detectives a number for a cellphone owned by Mr. Ramrattan.

When they checked phone records, they discovered multiple calls to the false witnesses, who confessed to the police. They were charged with perjury….

“From the beginning I was presumed guilty—not innocent,” she said. “I felt like I never had a chance.”

“I can never have faith in justice in this country again.”

Sumasar, who was separated from her 12-year-old daughter and lost her house and her restaurant franchise while she was locked up, plans to sue the police departments in New York City and in Nassau County, where one of the fictitious robberies supposedly occurred.

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