Police Perjury via MP3

By: Gerri L. Elder

Modern technology is wonderful, isn’t it? With all the new developments that have been and continue to be made, virtually anything is possible. Certainly anything these days can be recorded, right? If you don’t believe it, just ask Britney Spears.

As a matter of fact, many, if not most, police interrogations are now recorded, whether or not a suspect’s defense attorney is present. If not videotaped, certainly audio recordings are made to document all statements that are made. It is usually standard policy that police officers, detectives and investigators make these recordings.

But what if the police detective or arresting officer says that a suspect was never questioned? That would be a reason for no recording to be in police evidence. A veteran New York police detective claimed that this was the case with a teenage suspect accused of a shooting in the Bronx. If he never questioned the suspect, a recording would not exist. Right?

Well, if he had never questioned the suspect, that would be correct. However, because of the wonderful advances in technology that the detective obviously had forgotten about, the 17-year-old suspect had an audio recording of his interrogation that he had made himself with his MP3 player.

On New Years Eve 2005, Detective Christopher Perino arrested Erik Crespo in connection with the shooting of a man in an elevator. Perino took Crespo back to the station and began his ruthless hour-long interrogation.

What Perino did not expect was that Crespo had received a MP3 player, which was also capable of making recordings, as a Christmas present that year and happened to have it in his pocket. When Perino began questioning Crespo about the shooting, he reached into his pocket and pressed the record button on the MP3 player to capture an audio recording of the interrogation.

After being questioned, Erik Crespo was charged with attempted murder in connection with the shooting.

When Crespo went on trial for attempted murder this past April, Perino testified that he had not questioned Crespo about his involvement in the shooting on New Years Eve.

At the time, Perino was not aware of the fact that Crespo had made an audio recording of the whole thing and that his criminal lawyer was in possession of the recording.

As soon as Perino denied the interrogation, Crespo’s lawyer produced a transcript of the audio recording that Crespo had secretly made to counter Perino’s testimony. The transcript of the audio recording proved that Perino had interrogated Crespo for over an hour and at times had used coarse tactics with the teen.

After being made aware that he was caught in a lie, Perino was removed from the witness stand and advised to retain a lawyer.

Perino is now charged with 12 counts of perjury in connection with the off-the-record questioning of Crespo and lying under oath about it. He is out of jail on $15,000 bail, but if convicted of the perjury charges, he will face up to 7 years in prison on each count.

After the recorded interrogation was revealed at Crespo’s criminal trial, he was offered a plea deal. He had faced up to 25 years in prison if convicted of attempted murder.

Instead, he pleaded guilty to a weapons charge and was sentenced to seven years in prison. Perhaps he will be able to take his MP3 player with him, just in case he needs it while behind bars.