The New York Times reports that Jerry Ramrattan presented himself as a police detective and private investigator, impressing Sumasar, who ran a restaurant and formerly worked on Wall Street. He moved into her house in Queens in 2008, but instead of going to work, constantly watched CSI, Law and Order, and all those procedural shows. Their relationship turned rocky; after he cornered her one day and raped her, Susasar pressed charges.
One night, Ms. Sumasar was pulled over by the police. Before she could speak, detectives slapped handcuffs on her. “You know you did it,” she said one later shouted at her. “Just admit it.”
She was charged with carrying out a series of armed robberies, based on what the police said was a wealth of evidence, including credible witness statements and proof that her car was the getaway vehicle.
Sumasar knew from the start that Ramrattan was behind all this, but the police proceeded as if it was a cut-and-dry case. Her bail was set at $1 million. It took until December 2010 for the truth to come out, when an informant came forward to rat out Ramrattan.
The set-up: They said [Ramrattan] coached the supposed victims, driving them past Ms. Sumasar’s house so that they could describe her Jeep Grand Cherokee and showing them her photo so they could pick her out of a police lineup.
The setup began in September 2009, prosecutors said. An illegal immigrant from Trinidad told the police that he had been handcuffed and robbed of $700 by an Indian woman who was disguised as a police officer and had a gun, according to court documents.
Prosecutors said Mr. Ramrattan had persuaded the immigrant to lie, telling him that he could receive a special visa for victims of violent crimes.
Another six months went by before another man claimed that he was robbed by a police impersonator fitting Sumasar’s description. He provided the first three letters of her license plate.
The final fake crime was conjured in May 2010, officials said, when an acquaintance of Mr. Ramrattan said she had been held up by a couple posing as police officers. She said they were driving a Grand Cherokee, but she gave a full Florida license plate number.
She said she heard the pair call each other by name — “Seem” and “Elvis.” Elvis was the nickname of another former boyfriend of Ms. Sumasar, who owned the Jeep.
Thus, the police had all the prerogative in the world to arrest Sumasar and say, “Just admit it.” All it took was a prolonged web of evidence and paid off witnesses to put a woman pursuing justice in jail in herself.
Sumasar’s life was effectively ruined: After her arrest, she lost her restaurant franchise and her house in Far Rockaway went into foreclosure. She was separated from her daughter, Chiara, 12. Samasar is suing the prosecutors so concerned with conviction rates that they hastily threw her in jail and set her bail obscenely high while her own rape case has not even gone to trial.
Ramrattan alternately claimed that Sumasar set him up.
I suppose this is what happens when abusive CSI junkies do all the police work for the actual police, providing a wealth of (hearsay) evidence that fits so nicely together that coalesces into a slam-dunk case. What employee of the NYPD would pursue an open rape case when everything clearly leads back to Samasar? Leave the “innocent until proven guilty” bit to the judge and the jury.
The NYT article quotes police and prosecutor representatives as saying this amateur charlatan was some kind of mastermind. But maybe the justice system is just lazy and incompetent?
“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.”
Maybe Sumasar has a point. Scary.