2009-01-30 / Front Page

PI To ADA: 'You've Got To Be Smoking Crack...'

By Howard Schwach

Aretired police detective who patroled Rockaway's public housing projects for 20 years responded angrily in court this week to the implication by a Queens assistant district attorney that he had lied in order to free convicted murderer Kareem Bellamy.

"For you to even have the audacity to say that I perpetrated a fraud upon the court is disgusting," retired NYPD Detective Ed Hensen told Assistant District Attorney Brad Leventhal last week. "You've got to be smoking crack to believe this."

Hensen, now a private detective in Florida, told The Wave late last year that he had helped prosecutors put hundreds of criminals in prison and that he wouldn't lie to get one out of prison.

Hensen's testimony came in a hearing to determine whether or not Bellamy, who was convicted of murder in Rockaway 14 years ago, would be sent back to prison after testimony that a taped confession by another man, reputed to be Ishmael Melvyn, which got Bellamy released from prison last year, was bogus.

Hensen was one of the detectives working for attorney Tom Hoffman who got Bellamy released from prison.

According to statements to The Wave by several of the participants, Hensen was looking for a witness to the 1994 murder of James Abbott when he came across Michael Green in the Edgemere Houses.

Green told Hensen that Melvyn had confessed to him that he was involved in a Rockaway murder at that time.

Hensen took Green to Hoffman's office, where he reiterated his statement and agreed to try to get the confession on tape.

He later came back with a tape that purported to be the voice of Melvyn, who had been implicated by detectives during the original investigation, saying that he had murdered a man in Rockaway in 1994.

After Bellamy was released, however, Green told prosecutors that the tape was phony.

Green told The Wave in November that he had "played" Hoffman for more than $6,000 to "get out of town," and that neither Hoffman nor Hensen knew that the tape was false until after Bellamy's release.

Prosecutors, however, believe that Hensen and Hoffman fed Green the information that allowed him to make the bogus tape.

A spokesman for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown told The Wave that he could not comment on ongoing investigations.

No charges have been brought against either Hoffman or Hensen in connection with the case, however.

Hensen said this week that they have no case against him, and to indict Hoffman "would be a disgrace."

There has long been a contentious relationship between Hensen and Leventhal.

Henson has told The Wave on several occasions that he believes Leventhal just wants to see the case go away and is not interested in looking for the real killer, nor for the second man whom witnesses at the time said was involved.

Leventhal, for example, chided Hensen and the defense team for not vetting Melvyn's voice on the tape, checking it against another tape of Melvyn's voice to authenticate it.

Hensen, however, told The Wave this week that the district attorney's office has access to the experts that could easily do that, but have not done so because they are afraid to find out that it is really Melvyn's voice on the tape and they have been duped by Green.

Hensen says that, despite Green's testimony that the tape is bogus, he believes that the voice on the tape is really Melvyn's.

"Green is so afraid of Melvyn that he doesn't remember what lies he told," Hensen said. "The DA is hiding from the fact that the voice on the tape might really be Melvyn's."

At one point during his time on the stand, Hensen told Leventhal, "You certainly did not help [the defense lawyers] one bit, at least to look into the truth."

To which Leventhal responded angrily, "You don't know what I did."

Henson, in a heated exchange, told Leventhal, "You're all about win, win, win. This should be about justice."

Hensen charges that Leventhal is out to destroy both his reputation and that of Tom Hoffman in his attempt to send Bellamy back to prison.

The DA's press office declined to make Leventhal available for a Wave interview.

Judge Joel Blumenthal, who freed Bellamy from prison and is now hearing testimony on whether or not he should go back, said that he would hear motions by both sides and would rule some time after May 19, when the motions are due. He can reinstate Bellamy's conviction, allow him to stay free, or order a new trial.

Blumenthal allowed Bellamy to remain free on $150,000 bail while the decision is being made.

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