A white New York City police officer pleaded guilty on Tuesday to violating the civil rights of a black man on Staten Island by charging him with resisting arrest knowing that there was no probable cause to support the charge.
The officer, Michael Daragjati, also pleaded guilty to extortion for threatening and injuring a man he believed had stolen a snow plow from him.
Mr. Daragjati, 32, was automatically terminated from the police force when he pleaded; he had served for eight years. As part of his plea agreement, he agreed to never apply for another job in law enforcement.
Mr. Daragjati was recorded last April using a racial slur to brag about the arrest of the black man, whom prosecutors said the officer had stopped, searched, arrested without cause and falsely accused of resisting arrest.
The government said it intercepted and recorded a call between Mr. Daragjati and a female friend in which the officer said he had “fried another nigger.”
Mr. Daragjati, who has been in custody since his arrest in October, sat at the defendant’s table in federal court in Brooklyn wearing a khaki prisoner’s jumpsuit. He read from a statement when given the opportunity to admit to his crimes.
He said he did “deprive an individual of his civil rights by arresting him and causing him to spend a night in jail.”
The statement was noteworthy for what it did not say: Mr. Daragjati made no mention of race. His lawyer, Ronald P. Fischetti, said the civil rights violation had nothing to do with race.
The extortion charge stems from an accusation that Mr. Daragjati, who operates a snow-plowing business on Staten Island, where he lives, lured a man he suspected of stealing his plow to a parking lot where others beat him and ordered him to return the plow or pay $5,000.
The extortion charge is by far the more serious of the two to which the officer pleaded guilty. It carries a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison. The civil rights violation, a misdemeanor, carries a sentence of up to a year.
Mr. Daragjati’s sentence will most likely be much shorter than 20 years. Sentencing guidelines suggest a sentence of less than five years, Mr. Fischetti said.
A sentencing date has not yet been set.
“The defendant criminally abused the immense authority and public trust conferred on him by his status as a police officer,” Loretta E. Lynch, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement. “Hiding behind his badge, he subjected his victims to false arrest, imprisonment and threats of violence.”