your connection to The Boston Globe

Ex-officer sentenced to year in jail

Forced prostitute to perform sex

Michael LoPriore, 37, urged the judge to put him on probation. Michael LoPriore, 37, urged the judge to put him on probation.

In an emotional appeal to a federal judge yesterday, former Boston police officer Michael LoPriore said he was "not a bad person" and was depressed over his divorce and bankruptcy when he flashed his badge and forced a prostitute to perform sex on him three years ago.

"I wasn't thinking clearly," said LoPriore, 37, of Everett, urging the judge to place him on probation. "I hope you can give me a chance to lead a good life, like a normal human being, and just move forward."

But US District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock sentenced LoPriore to a year in prison, saying he had violated the victim's rights and broken the public's trust by using his position as a police officer to commit a serious crime. He also ordered LoPriore to pay a $2,000 fine. The former officer was ordered to report to prison April 20.

"When the government becomes the lawbreaker, we are all at risk," said Woodlock, calling the prosecution's recommendation that LoPriore spend a year behind bars both fair and just punishment.

The 12-year veteran of the Boston Police Department pleaded guilty in December to a federal misdemeanor charge of depriving the victim of her civil rights. As part of a plea agreement, he resigned from the force and agreed never to seek another job as a police officer in Massachusetts.

Prosecutors said LoPriore spotted the 19-year-old prostitute with a customer in Boston in September 2004 while he was off duty, flashed his badge, and ordered her to get into his car. After driving the woman to Quincy, LoPriore forced her to perform sex on him or face arrest and then drove her back to Boston.

The teenager, fearing that no one would believe her, took LoPriore's badge during the encounter and brought it to a lawyer, who contacted the FBI, according to the lawyer, John Swomley. The FBI secretly recorded telephone calls between the woman and LoPriore, who negotiated to try to get his badge back.

Assistant US Attorney George Vien said the government believed that prison time was necessary for LoPriore, both to punish him and to deter other officers from doing the same thing.

Yesterday, LoPriore, a father of a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old, apologized to the judge, his family, and his friends. He said he made a mistake three years ago in the midst of his divorce and financial crisis when he stopped taking medicine for depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

"I'm not making any excuses for my actions," said LoPriore, but he said he is "a different man" now and is studying to be an electrician and working two jobs to support his children, his girlfriend, and her two children.

The victim was not in the courtroom yesterday, but her lawyer, Swomley, who was present, said afterward that LoPriore had apologized to everyone, except the victim.

"He's sorry he got caught," said Swomley, adding that the victim didn't come to court because she is "not well."

"There's a lot of tragedy that flowed from this whole event, and she's got as much work to do as he does in rebuilding her life."

LoPriore's lawyer, Thomas Drechsler, argued that LoPriore had already been punished enough because he had lost his job, his wife, and his house and had been publicly humiliated by his conviction.