NYPD officers Franklin Mata and Kenneth Moreno
A judge scolded Manhattan prosecutors today for a grand jury evidentiary error that has caused a brink-of-trial delay for two cops accused in the on-duty rape of a drunken female club-goer.
Officers Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata had been scheduled to sit through jury selection today in the scandalous rape and burglary case.
The cops were set to fight career-ending, prison-risking accusations that they "helped" a beautiful, drunken 27-year-old fashion executive to her East Village apartment last year, with Moreno allegedly raping the woman as Mata stood guard.
Instead, prosecutor Randolph Clarke asked the trial judge for a two-week delay -- until March 21 -- so that the faulty rape and burglary indictment could be tossed and a new one voted by a second grand jury.
"The people are requesting March 21, your honor, based upon some evidence we discovered. We are seeking to re-present this to the grand jury," Clarke told Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Gregory Carro.
"But this is not new evidence," the judge responded -- noting that fault for the delay lies with the prosecution. "This is something you are trying to correct in the grand jury."
"Yes, your honor," Clarke said.
"I'm not sure why this took so long to figure out," Carro responded.
When the prosecutor promised to get a transcript from the second grand jury to the judge by Friday, March 18, so it could be reviewed in time for the trial to start the following Monday, the judge added, "In light of the fact that you are delaying the case I'd appreciate it."
The evidentiary error was not elaborated on in court by prosecutors. Moreno's lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, complained on the record only that, "This is something that has been in their [prosecutors'] possession for two and a half years."
Both sides are barred by grand jury secrecy laws from describing the omitted evidence outside court.
The cops are insisting that no sex whatsoever happened in the woman's apartment, and that Moreno only admitted otherwise -- falsely -- into his accuser's hidden microphone because she repeatedly threatened to march up to Moreno's Ninth Precinct desk sergeant and "make a scene."