New York police officer pleads guilty in civil rights case

Michael Daragjati, 32, right, in court today with his lawyer, Ronald Fischetti, and Brooklyn Federal Court Judge

An NYPD cop who boasted, “I fried another n—–,” pleaded guilty Tuesday to arresting a black man on trumped up charges.

Michael Daragjati read a brief statement in Brooklyn Federal Court in which he admitted fabricating a complaint that the unidentified man had resisted arrest on Staten Island last spring.

Daragjati, 32, said he made up the story because “I knew that doing so would cause the individual to spend the night in jail.”

Federal Judge William Kuntz — who is black and the son of an NYPD cop — insisted on reading aloud in his deep, booming voice every word of the document that contained the hateful words used by Daragjati.

The feds later intercepted a phone conversation of Daragjati telling a friend about the arrest. “I fried another n—–. Another n—– fried. No big deal,” he said, according to court papers.

Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a statement, “Hiding behind his badge, he subjected his victims to false arrest, imprisonment and threats of violence. He has been held to account for his criminal acts and will not have the opportunity to repeat them.”

Asked by a reporter why Daragjati used the racial epithet, defense lawyer Ronald Fischetti replied, “You’ll hear that at sentencing.”

“He’s very remorseful,” Fischetti added. “He has to give up a job that he loved.”

NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said Daragjati was terminated from the force upon the guilty plea although the cop’s lawyer said his client would resign on his sentencing day.

The cop did not admit that he had violated the victim’s constitutional rights because of racial bias, and he was not required to do so because race is not an element of the misdemeanor civil rights charge, Fischetti said.

“What he did was deprive an individual of his civil rights,” Fischetti said outside court.

The civil rights violation carries a penalty only up to a year in prison because the victim was not injured.

But Daragjati also pleaded guilty to the more serious charge of extortion stemming from a separate incident, a count that carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. He admitted threatening a man suspected of stealing a snow plow from him.

The judge can tack on a sentence for the civil rights violation to whatever term he gives Daragjati for extortion.

Daragjati has agreed not to appeal a sentence of less than 63 months.

The case had generated media attention because of Daragjati’s use of racial epithets and because the circumstances seemed to confirm anecdotal evidence that cops often stop and frisk minorities without a legal basis.

Daragjati has been held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn since his arrest in October. He has been moved out of solitary confinement into the general population, and there have been no problems with other inmates despite his notoriety and the fact that he’s a cop, Fischetti said.

Prosecutors in the Staten Island district attorney’s office have been reviewing Daragjati’s past arrests for problems.

“It’s quite a few cases, and we’re still going through them,” spokesman Peter Spencer said.

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