BEYOND BERGEN: Bernie Goetz, the 1980s “subway vigilante” who became a living symbol of an American racial divide, had charges of selling $30 worth of pot to an undercover cop in New York City’s Union Square Park thrown out earlier today.
Goetz, now 65, had rejected a plea deal that required 10 days of community service, saying he felt coerced. He said he simply offered some marijuana to a woman who turned out to be an undercover cop, but that she insisted on paying.
“I’m very anti-crime — everybody knows that. This is just a waste of government resources,” the former self-employed electronics geek and onetime city mayoral candidate said in April. “If they want to get a conviction on me as a marijuana seller, they can take it to a jury and let a jury decide.”
The judge tossed the case today, saying that prosecutors fell short of bringing it under New York’s speedy trial law by 14 days.
Although delays are allowed, prosecutors in New York generally have 90 days to bring the type of case that emerged from Goetz’s December arrest.
It was three days before Christmas 30 years ago that Goetz shot four black teens — one holding a screwdriver — with an illegal Smith & Wesoon .38 revolver after they asked him for $5 on a Manhattan subway train.
Goetz turned himself in nine days later. He was convicted of weapons possession — for which he spent 250 days in jail — and cleared of attempted murder charges after claiming he fired in self-defense.
One of the shot teens was later awarded $43 million in a civil trial.
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