NEW YORK -- A disgraced former NYPD officer burst into tears in Brooklyn federal court on Friday as he was sentenced to nearly five years behind bars for an extortion scheme and for arresting a Staten Island man on fabricated charges in 2011.
Michael Dargjati, 33, an eight-year NYPD veteran assigned to Staten Island, was arrested and stripped of his badge last October after federal agents caught him on a wiretap plotting an extortion scheme involving an off-duty snowplow business. He can also be heard using racist language to boast about setting up innocent black men for arrest.
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In April 2011, Daragjati, who is white, stopped and frisked Kenrick Gray, a 33-year-old black man, and found no weapons or contraband. But after Gray complained about his treatment during the search, Daragjati took him into custody on a charge of resisting arrest, claiming that Gray flailed his arms and legs during the arrest. Gray spent 36 hours in jail.
On the wiretap, Daragjati told a friend that Gray had not resisted arrest and that he had "fried another nigger," federal prosecutors said.
In May, Gray added his run-in with Daragjati to a federal lawsuit, claiming he was unlawfully stopped and frisked two separate times by NYPD cops in 2010.
Daragjati's sentencing Friday comes amidst growing public outrage over the racial disparities in the use of stop and frisks by the NYPD. In 2011, 87 percent of the nearly 700,000 stops conducted by NYPD cops were of blacks or Latinos.
"People hate cops," Daragjati said in court Friday. "I don't even blame them anymore with this stop and frisk nonsense."
Daragjati was also charged with extortion for attacking a man who he believed had stolen snowplow equipment from him and for threatening him with a gun. He pleaded guilty to civil rights and extortion charges in January.
On Friday, a tearful Darajgati, surrounded by family and friends, begged the judge to let him serve his sentence at home, under house arrest, so he could take care of his wife and three daughters.
"My daughters knew that daddy put bad people in jail," Daragjati said, wiping his eyes. "Now how do I explain that daddy's in jail?"
District Judge William F. Kuntz II was unsympathetic, handing down the maximum sentence. "You knew full well how to act as a real police officer," Kuntz said.
Kuntz further noted that Daragjati made little reference to his victims in his plea for leniency.
Ronald Fischetti, Daragjati's attorney, said after the proceeding that the sentence was too harsh and that the judge focused too much on the civil rights complaint in his decision for both charges.
But he conceded that Daragjati had a problem with racism.
Daragjati has also had two civilian complaints and is the subject of three lawsuits, some still pending, all involving African-American males, including Gray.
"It's not a coincidence, he is a racist," Fischetti said.
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