-- TODAY, Chuck Schwarz starts the first day of the rest of his life as a free man.
"Yes, I'm free, and it feels great, but I still want total vindication," the former cop and Gulf War Marine told me exclusively
Schwarz has spent 80 months incarcerated for the most screwed-up and racially charged case to ever hit the New York
Police Department. Officer Justin Volpe was sentenced to 30 years for a shocking assault on Abner Louima after a riot
outside a Brooklyn nightclub.
Somewhere, somehow, a bitter and nasty federal prosecutor by the name of Alan Vinegrad wanted to indict the entire
NYPD. Chuck was caught in the web, sentenced to 15 years over the accusation that he held Louima down as Volpe
sodomized the immigrant with a broom handle - despite Volpe later saying Schwarz wasn't with him when he walked into
the infamous bathroom at the 70th Precinct station house.
Then, after a campaign by this newspaper and the dogged persistence of a brilliant lawyer by the name of Ronald
Fischetti, Chuck was cleared on appeal. Fischetti showed that prosecutors became so obsessed with a blue wall of
silence that they intimidated any witnesses who didn't say what they wanted to hear. But the venomous Vinegrad would
still get his pound of flesh and charge Chuck with perjury. "You know, I sort of dream that eventually someone will get a
conscience [and realize] Schwarz had nothing to do with nothing," Schwarz said from his job in Syracuse, where he
signed out of a halfway house yesterday. "You know, for me and my wife, Andra, somehow time hasn't moved," he said.
"We talk to our friends and their life has moved. Ours just stood still. When someone takes almost 10 years out of your
life, that's what happens. "My aunt Mary Anne died in February, and I asked permission to go to her funeral. That was on
Feb. 16. I'm still waiting for the Bureau of Prisons to answer my request." Crazy.
He was offered a reduced sentence if he shut up and took it like a man, but the bait-and-switch feds, it turned out, didn't
have the juice to offer the reduction, and Chuck suffered an extra year of incarceration.
The case of Chuck Schwarz was one of the worst I've ever seen: evil and mean-spirited with no other aim than to destroy
Chuck Schwarz's proud humanity.
That's more power than a worm like Alan Vinegrad should have.
But now, the worm has turned - Vinegrad is in private practice and will have to defend other innocents from vicious attack
is like the one he mounted against Chuck Schwarz.
I can hardly wait to see that metamorphosis.