Lawsuit Alleges ‘Money Still Talks’ With Rye, N.Y., Police Dept.

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The Journal News explores an unusual case in Rye, N.Y., in which a police officer accepted a $75,000 payment to head off a lawsuit after he accused a young man of assault. The case involved Frederick Schmitz, 22, and Officer Franco Compagnone. The paper said Schmitz didn't want a felony conviction on his record. And his family, with deep Westchester roots, had the money to do something about it. The officer, who suffered an injured knee and wrist, didn't want the charge reduced — until he got some of that money.

So Schmitz and Compagnone reached an agreement in spring 2011. Schmitz paid $75,000 to head off a lawsuit over the cop's injuries, and and Compagnone consented to the felony charge disappearing. Within days, prosecutors let Schmitz plead guilty to a misdemeanor, though the district attorney’s office said the payment had no bearing on that. The case raised few eyebrows then but now it has come up in a federal lawsuit over alleged excessive use of a force by Rye police. An attorney for the plaintiff, Andrew Caspi, says the payment to Compagnone was emblematic of a “money still talks” attitude in the New York suburb.

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