Reporting John Slattery
MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP/CBS 2/1010 WINS) – For more than a year after she accused her ex-boyfriend of rape, Seemona Sumasar said his friends pressured her to drop the charges. City health and buildings inspectors would show up at her Queens restaurant to investigate anonymous complaints that she was sure were filed by the ex-boyfriend.
Then she was arrested on charges she had committed a pair of armed robberies while posing as a police officer.
Sumasar spent nearly seven months behind bars, until prosecutors determined the robberies were actually an elaborate frame-up orchestrated by the ex-boyfriend. She was freed last week, but she said Wednesday that her business is ruined, her home is threatened with foreclosure and her pleas of innocence were ignored.
“It shows that he will stop at nothing,” Sumasar told CBS 2′s John Slattery. “Now he’s accusing me of mortgage fraud. I have no clue what he’s talking about, but it’s clear to show that he’s not going to stop.”
Prosecutors, acting on a tip, filed perjury charges against the ex-boyfriend and the two robbery “victims” who confessed they had lied.
Sumasar, the mother of a 12-year-old, just wishes investigators would have paid attention to her long ago.
“They acted like I’m just trying to blame somebody else for something I did,” Sumasar, 35, said at a news conference in her attorney’s office Wednesday. “They did not want to look into it at all.”
The attorney, Anthony Grandinette, said it is too soon to consider a civil lawsuit, noting that Sumasar’s robbery charges are still pending. She is due back in Nassau County Court on Jan. 10.
When she was arrested in May, Sumasar was held on $1 million bail. That was later cut in half, but her attorney said there was no way she could post either amount, leaving her to await trial in jail.
It was the first time she had ever been behind bars.
“I didn’t think I was going to last a day or a night there,” she said. “It was bad. I cried. I prayed. I meditated. I did everything I could to keep my mind from going crazy. I was praying somebody’s going to listen.”
Sumasar, who had worked for a decade on Wall Street, owned a franchise restaurant, a Golden Crust bakery, at the time of her arrest. Her family operated the struggling business for three months while she was in jail, but eventually they had to shut it down, she said.
She said her daughter, Chiara, had to move out of their Queens home and live temporarily with her father in Brooklyn. Sumasar didn’t even let the child visit her in the Nassau County Jail for the first few months she was there, but she eventually relented.
“I didn’t think it was a place for her to come, but at the same time I didn’t know when I was getting out of there,” Sumasar admitted.
The rape charges are still pending against the ex-boyfriend, Jerry Ramrattan, in neighboring Queens. He pleaded not guilty last week to perjury and other charges in the Sumasar robbery case and is being held on $500,000 bail.
His attorney did not return repeated telephone messages for comment, but told Newsday last week that there “is no credible evidence” against his client.
Sumasar said the rape took place in Ramrattan’s Queens apartment in March 2009.
Because of the pressure she endured in the ensuing months, she said, “at some point, I wanted it to go away and thought about not testifying.” But she decided to stick with the case, saying she was angry “he had the nerve to send me all these threats.”
After her robbery arrest, she said she told detectives about the pending rape case.
“I think everybody looked at me as a drama queen, like I’m giving them a Lifetime movie story and you know, nobody believes me,” she said.
Grandinette said he pleaded with authorities to investigate Sumasar’s alibi that she was at a Connecticut casino when one of the armed robberies supposedly took place. He said he was preparing his client for a January trial when the plot to frame his client unraveled last week.
“We can’t get anybody to get up out of their chair and investigate the case,” Grandinette groused. “The district attorney’s office has been suggesting that this was a master plot. This was a relatively simple straightforward thing to do. You get two people in an isolated area, they call 911, they make the whole thing up, there’s no corroboration.
“This didn’t take the work of a mastermind, nor did it take the work of a mastermind to unravel it, to put the pieces together.”
An anonymous informant came forward to tell authorities the robberies never happened, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said in a statement Friday. Investigators found that Ramrattan, 38, promised to pay off two witnesses to lie to police, the DA’s office and the grand jury about the robberies, Rice said.
“This was a major, major scam that he was doing,” Rice said. “The steps and length that he went to to frame this woman were really unbelievable.”
The robbery “victims” were then questioned again, and they confessed that Ramrattan had promised to pay them to file the false reports.
A spokesman for Rice did not immediately respond to Grandinette’s criticisms Wednesday about the investigation.
“Once my office became aware of the new evidence, we worked quickly to release Sumasar and to arrest the defendant,” Rice said in the statement last week.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)