— While her ex-boyfriend has been sentenced to 33 years in prison for masterminding the plot that caused her to languish in a prison cell for seven months for a crime she didn’t commit, Seemona Sumasar believes she never should have gone to jail.
She is backing up that assertion with legal action, filing a civil lawsuit against the New York City Police Department, the Nassau County Police Department and the Nassau County District Attorney for failing to properly investigate the false charges against her. In court, the NYPD and Nassau County have argued that the suit should be dropped and that the allegations are without merit.
“To be blunt, they didn’t do their job,’’ Sumasar told TODAY on Friday. “There was sufficient evidence from day one of my incarceration to prove that I couldn’t have done it. I don’t understand it. I really don’t understand it up to this day.’’
Sumasar said she never got an apology from authorities for having to endure an ordeal that greatly damaged her life and career. Her story is the subject of a special “Dateline NBC” episode at 10 p.m. (ET) Friday.
“There was never an explanation,’’ Sumasar told Matt Lauer. “I asked for one, and I was told at the time when I was released that they weren’t able to give an explanation of exactly what happened. I was told that the reason they released me was due to an informant coming forward with sufficient information to back up what I was saying.’’
During her incarceration, Sumasar, 36, had her restaurant go out of business and lost her home to foreclosure because she could not afford the $1 million bail. She also was separated from her daughter, now 14, when she was framed for three armed robberies by her ex-boyfriend, Jerry Ramrattan, according to prosecutors. Ramrattan also was convicted of raping her on March 9, 2009.
Sumasar was arrested on May 21, 2010 and charged with three armed robberies, beginning an odyssey that had her in a jail cell for seven months until an informant came forward with information about the plot by Ramrattan. A private detective in Queens, Ramrattan, 39, used knowledge gathered from cop dramas like “CSI: Miami” to coerce three others into a conspiracy that made his ex-girlfriend look like a criminal, according to prosecutors.
The district attorney’s offices in Queens and Nassau County insisted on Sumasar’s guilt before prosecutors unraveled what they called one of the more elaborate frame jobs in recent memory.
“He was out to do whatever he could to discredit her,’’ Frank Gaetano, assistant Queens district attorney, told NBC News. “In Jerry’s world, that was bringing false charges against her. And he did it in a very, very clever and really masterful way to pin these crimes on her.’’
On Nov. 23, 2011, Ramrattan was found guilty of rape, perjury and conspiracy by a jury in State Supreme Court in Queens. In January, he was sentenced to 33 years in prison, with at least 20 years before he is up for parole.
Ramrattan maintains his innocence in the conspiracy and on the rape conviction. “I can’t believe that someone would sit there and create a story like this,’’ Ramrattan told NBC News. “I guarantee you the truth will come out.’’
“I think the mountain of evidence came out in the trial, and I think the truth speaks for itself,’’ Sumasar said. “I couldn’t possibly make up that he framed me.’’
‘What took her so long?’
Surveillance and cell phone records proved that Sumasar was at the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut at the time of one of the alleged robberies. Also, another woman who had dated Ramrattan testified to seeing some of the violent behavior that Sumasar said he had previously exhibited.
Sumasar wishes the woman, whom she has never met, had come forward sooner. “I’m thankful to her that she finally did come forward, but to my understanding, she knew of the whole plot from day one,’’ Sumasar said. “She was even physically there at one of the meetings to plot against me. I just want to know, what took her so long?”
Sumasar was given some measure of justice with the stiff sentence handed down on Ramrattan.
“I can’t tell you how pleased I am with the outcome and the fact that, in the sentencing, he did get the maximum,’’ she said. “I couldn’t be happier.’’
“I was shocked,’’ Ramrattan said about the verdict. “It doesn’t matter what I say because I’m the fall guy right now.’’
Considering the plot Ramrattan was able to mastermind, there is always the possibility that he could still try to affect Sumasar’s life from behind bars.
“I’m trying not to think about that at all,’’ she said. “Anything is possible. I know I should be concerned with things like that, but I try not to think about it.’’