The stunning verdict comes after 7 days of deliberations in the headline-making trial where prosecutors claimed officer Kenneth Moreno, 17-year veteran raped a 29-year-old fashion executive in December 2008. Moreno's partner Franklin Mata was accused of playing the role of a lookout while Moreno assaulted the drunken woman.
Although the officers admitted to violating a list of NYPD procedures on the night they were called to help the victim out of a taxi and into her apartment following a night of drinking, both maintain that they did not sexually violate the woman.
Despite being found not guilty of rape, NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly initially said the misconduct conviction wasn't enough to merit a termination, but later said, "The guilty verdicts reached today involved violations of the officers' oaths of office and as a result warrant immediate termination from the Police Department, and we will pursue that today," Kelly said in a statement to PIX 11 News Thursday.
Mata's attorney, Edward Mandery, says the main motivation behind his client being criminally charged is the $57 million the alleged victim is seeking from the city.
"There's a lot of reasons in this case that would benefit her, 57 million of them, probably," he said outside State Supreme Court.
Mandery called the woman a gold digger during his closing arguments while prosecutors countered with what they considered to be the strongest evidence against the two cops, including surveillance video showing the officers entering the woman's apartment four different times in one night.
The two cops had originally been called to her East Village building by a cabbie who had given the woman a ride home and felt that she was too drunk to get into her apartment on her own.
During the 6-week trial, a number of salacious details surfaced surrounding the night in question including how Moreno said he attempted to physically comfort the woman while she was nearly naked, singing the Bon Jovi song "Living On A Prayer" to her while the two laid down and spooned.
Moreno also admitted that he made a false 911 call in order to ensure that he and Mata could remain at the woman's East Village apartment.
Even though those acts are severe violations of NYPD procedure, Moreno and Mata say they were not party to any sexual violation. Moreno's attorney, famed defense lawyer Joe Tacopina, has called his client a simpleton who is not a sexual predator.
The pair initially faced 25 years in prison if they were found guilty of the most serious charges of rape and burglary, but now face a maximum of two years on the three misdemeanor counts of official misconduct.
Sentencing for Mata and Moreno is scheduled for June 29.