Private detective raped girlfriend, then framed her for armed robberies

New York

A former private detective in New York is facing up to 25 years in prison after being convicted of raping his ex-girlfriend and then framing her for a series of armed robberies she never committed.

A jury in Queens convicted Jerry Ramrattan, 39, on more than 10 charges, including rape, perjury, conspiracy and tampering with witnesses for pulling off what prosecutors called a vengeful "master plot" to punish his victim, Seemona Sumasar, and thus exact revenge on her for reporting the rape to police.

Prosecutors said during the trial that Ramrattan had taken cues from television police dramas such as "CSI" to ensnare Ms Sumasar, 36, who spent seven months in prison last year before a police informant stepped forward to reveal that the armed robberies for which she had been taken into custody never actually occurred.

Ms Sumasar, a former Morgan Stanley analyst and restaurant owner, was planning yesterday to spend Thanksgiving with family and friends. It promised to be a better holiday than a year ago when she was in a prison cell eating only an apple. In prison she was also separated from her 12-year-old child.

"How do you turn around and do that to somebody?" Ms Sumasar said leaving the courthouse. "How do you live with yourself? Do I hate him? No. It makes me bitter and I don't want to be bitter. It's over." Until her release from jail last December, Ms Sumasar also lost her house to foreclosure.

Prosecutors detailed to jury members how Ramrattan recruited false witnesses to relate to police how they had been victims of armed hold-ups by his ex-girlfriend. In one case he left a bullet at the scene of the purported crime for investigators to find. One of the witnesses said she had dressed in a police officers uniform to commit the robbery. "The defendant's brazen attempt to seek retribution was not without consequences. [Ms Sumasar] has suffered serious financial hardships, as well as emotional distress," Richard Brown, a prosecutor, said. "Yet, despite her adversity, she had the courage to face her attacker in court and, with her testimony, help convict him. The tables have now turned and it is the defendant who faces the real prospect of spending a lengthy time behind bars."

Yet the case was unusual also because it highlighted how the District Attorney's office had allowed itself to be duped by Ramrattan for so long until the truth was exposed by the informant.

The bizarre nature of the crime was underlined by Mr Brown even before the start of the trial. "We prosecute tens of thousands of cases each year, but in the collective memory, no one has ever seen anything like this before," he said. "Few people have the capacity to pull off a master plot of this magnitude to exact revenge."

The rape of Ms Sumasar occurred on 8 March 2009, apparently after a fierce argument between her and Ramrattan. After she reported it to police, he was arrested but then freed on bail. It was on his release that he began plotting his scheme to have her put behind bars for the fake robberies, prosecutors said.

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