The former NYPD officer found guilty of perjury in the case of Abner Louima, the man beaten and sexually assaulted with a plunger in a bathroom of a Brooklyn police stationhouse in 1997, is suing his most recent employer, Con Edison, for allegedly firing him abruptly because of the conviction nearly two decades ago.
Chuck Schwarz spent five years in prison after a jury convicted him in 2002 of lying about the circumstances surrounding Louima's attack. He was released to a halfway house in 2007 and applied for a job as a mechanic with Con Edison's gas operations in July.
According to the lawsuit, Schwarz had to pass a written exam and complete other requirements, including passing a medical exam, physical ability and road tests and completing CPR training.
He disclosed his conviction on his job application.
Schwarz had an initial interview with Con Edison, during which time his conviction was not mentioned, the lawsuit says, and he completed the rest of the requirements over the next few months. Schwarz was hired in November and assigned to the utility's gas operations in Manhattan.
About a week into the job, the lawsuit says a construction supervisor approached Schwarz and, according to the lawsuit, "told Plaintiff 'we need to talk' because everyone 'downstairs' knew who he was, and his hiring 'blew up the building' and 'people are talking.'"
Two weeks later, the lawsuit says Schwarz was fired due to "potential disruption of business operations" and "damage to the company's reputation." Schwarz told the person who fired him that he believed he was being terminated because of his conviction, and the lawsuit says the person did not deny that.
The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages fir the "anguish and pain and suffering" it says Schwarz suffered as a result of Con Edison's "discriminatory conduct." It also seeks reinstatement.
Schwarz's attorney, Alan Serrins, said his client feels like he's being punished for something that happened 17 years ago.
"Chuck Schwarz deserves a second chance just like everybody else," Serrins said. "He's extremely upset that this is haunting him."
Asked about the litigation, Con Edison emailed NBC 4 New York Friday, "We have a copy of the lawsuit and will respond as appropriate in court."
Another officer, Justin Volpe, confessed to sodomizing Louima and said he threatened the man's life. He is serving a 30-year sentence.