Cry, Cry Baby

The proper sentence has long been one of the great mysteries of the system. There is the question of  why someone will be sentenced to, say, 17 years rather than a nice round 15 (or 20, for that matter).  Then there is the question of why a sentence of imprisonment is imposed at all, when the option of probation is available.

Kings County Supreme Court Justice Gus Reichbach had that option when it came time to sentence Jason Arbeeny, who was convicted of “flaking” a couple of guys.  Via the best crime reporter in town, Oren Yaniv at the Daily News :

In a bench trial, Reichbach found Arbeeny guilty of “flaking” — framing two people by planting crack in their car during a 2007 bust.

The ex-cop technically faced a maximum of four years in prison, though sources said he was never likely to get that much.

He was one of eight officers indicted in a Brooklyn South Narcotics scandal. His trial revealed the seamy side of narcotics policing, including cops getting sexual favors from junkies in exchange for drugs and making false arrests to meet quotas and rake in overtime.

A fall from grace? That’s how it looks to cops, who suddenly find empathy where before there was nothing.

Reichbach called Arbeeny’s conduct “not only reprehensible abuse of trust and authority but the corruption of the entire criminal justice system.”

But he was swayed by pleas from the defendant, his wife and lawyer, who talked about how he had lost his job, his pension and his health.

Arbeeny even mentioned that his young son is in therapy after threatening suicide.

Defense lawyer Michael Elbaz blamed the “enormous pressure” to meet arrest quotas.

It’s really tough to be a cop, all the pressure of being the guy with the gun and shield ordering other people to bend to their will, to do as their told or feel the cold metal, whether it’s the gun across their face or the cuffs on their wrist.  And what about the poor family, who suffers the humiliation? Of course, defendants (including the innocent ones framed) have families too, but when that’s raised in mitigation, there’s always the argument that they should have thought of their children before they committed the crime. We can’t expect cops to think of their children before they flake people, as their minds are too chock full of pressure-filled thoughts.

He cried — and the judge cut him loose.

A disgraced NYPD detective convicted of planting drugs on an innocent couple was looking at jail time when he walked into court on Thursday.

He walked out with probation after blubbering that he was ashamed of himself and pleading for mercy.

“I can’t look at myself in the mirror anymore,” Jason Arbeeny told Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Gustin Reichbach.

“Sir, I am begging you, please don’t send me to jail.”

Aw, the detective cried.  He blubbered. He was so pathetic that Justice Reichbach took pity on him and showed him mercy.  After all, he lost his job. He lost his pension. Hasn’t he suffered enough? 

In fairness to Justice Reichbach, he’s proven himself fair to all defendants before him.  His sense of mercy and proportionality distinguishes him, and one can hardly fault him for showing empathy to Abeerney as he’s done the same for others who didn’t wear a badge when they committed their crime.

But cry?  Blubber? What about the cries of the wives, the mothers of children whose fathers were flaked?  What about the children’s cries when their parent went far upstate to little towns whose only industry is a prison because some cop with a quota lied about what they did?  How many cops can’t sleep at night because they left another child without a parent?

But then, as long as their pensions are vested and intact, life is good for a police officer. Nothing to cry about when the pension is safe.  So somebody got framed in the process of racking up some overtime? Well, he probably did something anyway, and even if he didn’t, somebody has to take one for the team. As long as that somebody isn’t a cop.

Consider how the relative impact on society differs from the defendant accused of dealing drugs and the defendant who puts innocent people in prison.  The former goes to prison for decades, while the latter gets probation.  Both cry, yet somehow the cop’s blubbering is so much more sympathetic, so much more sincere.

Arbeeny, who was on the force for 14 years, tearfully apologized to his victims.

“My oath went down the window, my pride went out the window,” he said.

Reichbach admitted the weepy mea culpa got to him.

Justice Reichbach must be a better person than me, because I’m not feeling any reticence over shipping Arbeeny off to Ossining.  You know, it’s tough for a cop in general population.  Then again, it’s tough for anybody. And it’s really tough for those hungry kids who have lost their parent. It’s always tough. For everybody.

Maybe it’s because civilian defendants can’t strike the right note for lack of an oath they violated?  Could that be why Arbeeny’s tears made a difference?

Sorry, but I really can’t find it in my heart to feel particularly sorry about this “weepy mea culpa.” I’m still stuck on all the other defendants who were framed so some cop could make his quota, get some overtime and keep his pension.  In fact, it strikes me as a better reason to put him in prison rather than cut him a break.

This defendant was sentenced last February, but it just came on my radar today.  I wonder how many defendants were framed by cops who got the message from this sentence, that if they get caught, they will never see the inside of a prison cell, and then went on with flaking the innocent and guilty alike without any breaking a sweat.  If they get caught, all they have to do is cry.

3 comments on “Cry, Cry Baby

  1. Luke Gardner

    And here I was thinking this post was going to be about Janis Joplin’s great song “Cry Baby”

  2. SHG

    I thought about adding in a video of Janis, but then I thought, the Arbeeny story doesn’t merit such a great song.

  3. Onlooker

    It’s the violation of the public’s trust and the abuse of the power that should warrant an even harsher punishment than simply dealing drugs, or any number of other offenses. And yet, that doesn’t seem to be highlighted and acted upon. Which only leads to more abuse, as you pointed out.

    Disgusting, and frightening.

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