A former Wall Street analyst who claims she was held in jail after being framed by a former boyfriend says she has lost faith in the American justice system and will sue the New York Police Department for incompetence.
Seemona Sumasar spent seven months behind bars awaiting trial for allegedly committing three gun-point robberies while posing as a police officer. She was released only after detectives grasped what she had been telling them all along – that in an elaborate act of revenge, her ex-lover had set her up and made dupes of them all.
"From the beginning I was presumed guilty, not innocent," Ms Sumasar told The New York Times this week. "I felt like I never had a chance. I can never have faith in justice in this country again."
When she was arrested she had no previous criminal record but was told she faced 25 years in prison for the hold-ups. Ms Sumasar, who worked as an analyst with Morgan Stanley before trying her hand as a restaurant owner, took her first wrong turn when she began dating a man named Jerry Ramrattan, who claimed to be a police investigator. Rather, what he knew about detective work he had gleaned entirely from television crime shows such as CSI and Law & Order. The trouble really started in March 2009, when, she says, Mr Ramrattan raped her. She reported the attack to the police and refused to drop the charges. Police now believe Mr Ramrattan used what he had learnt from the police dramas to hatch a plot that would have her sent to prison. It was an elaborate scheme that came close to working.
"In the collective memory, no one has ever seen anything like this before," the District Attorney in the New York borough of Queens acknowledged this week. Mr Ramrattan is now himself behind bars, with his trial due to begin on 3 October, when he will face charges of rape and conspiracy.
Prosecutors now allege that Mr Ramrattan tried to fool police into believing that his one-time lover had committed three robberies in the New York area over a period of months, dressed as a police officer. He found people willing to pretend they had been her victims and coached them carefully – for example, by showing them pictures of her so they would identify her correctly and by driving them past her home and her car. One man, as part of his story, gave the first three letters of her car number plate to detectives. After the third robbery, a purported victim told police the getaway car had Florida plates. When detectives found out that Ms Sumasar had at roughly the same time transferred ownership of the car to a sister in Florida, they felt even more convinced of her guilt.
Family members and lawyers for Mr Ramrattan insist he is innocent and he is now being framed by her. It's a script, in other words, worthy of the best of any of his favourite cop shows.