Long Beach seeks U.S. attorney probe into police lawsuit against city

City Manager Jack Schnirman sent a letter yesterday City Manager Jack Schnirman sent a letter yesterday to U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, accusing officers of making "fraudulent or false statements to the court." Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

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The Long Beach city manager yesterday asked the U.S. attorney's office to investigate and prosecute six Long Beach police officers and their lawyer, alleging they embellished several emails included in a $39 million lawsuit against the city.

The current and former officers last week refiled a lawsuit against the city, city manager and council members, accusing them of plotting to demote and fire the officers for campaigning for Republicans in the 2011 election.

The lawsuit was filed by Manhattan-based attorney Eric Rothstein on behalf of James Canner, Karl Hayes, James McCormack, Jose Miguez, John Radin and Benjamin Tayne. Four of the officers remain with the department. McCormack and Canner retired, according to the complaint.

They refiled the lawsuit after a federal judge last month found the officers could not prove their case and dismissed claims that their First and 14th Amendment rights were violated. The amended complaint includes emails allegedly sent by Democratic deputy chairman Steven Kohut and City Council vice president Fran Adelson.

City Manager Jack Schnirman sent a letter yesterday to Loretta Lynch, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, accusing the officers of making "fraudulent or false statements to the court." He included what he said were the original emails.

The U.S. attorney's office yesterday declined to comment on the request.

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Schnirman said phrases were added to original emails to "extort money from the city" for $3.5 million per defendant in lost wages and pensions.

"This is not a situation where the plaintiffs have merely 'stretched' the truth, but instead . . . glaringly lied to the court," Schnirman said in the letter.

"We believe the United States Attorney's Office should not let this injustice stand and should institute an immediate investigation into these plaintiffs and file criminal charges against them for making such falsehoods," Schnirman's letter states.

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Rothstein said he stands by the emails and called them "a smoking gun" to support the officers' case.

"I welcome the investigation," Rothstein said.

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