In the 14 hours that Seemona Sumasar spent in a police interrogation room last May, she said, she could think of only one reason she could have been arrested: her vengeful ex-boyfriend.
Sumasar says her arrest on charges that she had dressed up as a police officer and robbed three people at gunpoint was the final desperate act of her ex, Jerry Ramrattan, who was about to go to trial on charges that he raped her in March 2009.
"I knew the fact I was in handcuffs had to do with him," Sumasar, 35, said Wednesday at a news conference in Mineola.
Sumasar was released from jail Friday - she was incarcerated for more than six months - after two people who had claimed she robbed them admitted they had concocted their stories after Ramrattan promised to pay them to do so, prosecutors said.
Ramrattan, 38, of East Elmhurst, pleaded not guilty Friday afternoon to second-degree perjury, falsifying business records and other charges. The rape case against him is pending.
Ramrattan's lawyer, James Kilduff of Brooklyn, said his client denies that he has any connection to the false witnesses in the case or that he played any part in any false allegations.
The three people that prosecutors say posed as Sumasar's victims have pleaded not guilty to perjury and other charges.
Sumasar, who has moved out of state, said the months she spent in the Nassau County jail, separated from her 12-year-old daughter, were almost unbearable. Nassau District Judge Francis Ricigliano on May 23 had ordered her held on $500,000 bond or $500,000 cash bail.
"I didn't think I was going to last a day or a night there," she said Wednesday. "I did everything I could to keep from going crazy and letting it ruin me."
Sumasar's lawyer, Anthony Grandinette of Mineola, says prosecutors should have seen red flags in the case earlier. The defense had presented them with surveillance photos of Sumasar at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn., at the time that one of the robberies allegedly happened in Inwood.
Nassau Executive District Attorney Sheryl Anania said her office did everything they could.
Prosecutors had two witnesses making detailed complaints against Sumasar. And in a bizarre twist, police who reported to one of the locations of the fake robberies actually spotted a car that matched her car's description. When they tried to stop it, it fled, Anania said, adding that the incident has never been explained.
As for the casino photos, Anania said Sumasar is wearing sunglasses and is hard to identify.
Anania said she and her assistant presented their case to the grand jury. When the panel indicted Sumasar, they decided to move forward with the case.
Sumasar says she lost much during her time in jail. Her business, a Golden Krust bakery in Queens, shut down, and her home went into foreclosure.
"I have to try to start all over again, because I have nothing left," she said.