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Attorney: U.S. swimmers pulled from plane knew Ryan Lochte’s robbery story ‘was a lie’

Lawyer for U.S. swimmers Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger says they were "heard as witnesses. They didn't do anything and they didn't say anything to anyone." (Video: Reuters, Photo: UESLEI MARCELINO/Reuters)

Sérgio Riera, the lawyer who succeeded in getting American swimmers Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger permission from a judge to leave Brazil on Wednesday night, told The Post’s Dom Phillips that his clients had not lied to police about an alleged robbery involving American swimming star Ryan Lochte on Sunday night.

“They did not lie. They did not talk to the press, not one lie and not one truth. They simply did not talk to the press. They did not go to the police station and they were not told to appear at the police station,” Riera said in an interview once both men had gone through check-in at Rio’s international airport.

Police discredit Ryan Lochte’s robbery story, say swimmers owe Rio an apology

Riera said neither Bentz nor Conger had known that police had arrived Wednesday afternoon at Rio’s Olympic Village to take witness statements because they had already moved out, as their competitions were finished. By Thursday, Brazilian police had accused Lochte of fabricating his story of being held up by armed assailants along with three of his U.S. Olympic teammates.

“They were doing everything that they had planned, travel that day and so on. They did not think it would take on this proportion,” Riera said.

But Bentz and Conger did not concur with the account of an armed robbery that Lochte told to NBC, according to Riera.

“They knew it was a lie. But they did not have to go public,” Riera said. “They thought this would be forgotten. They did not think it would have a more serious consequence.”

Riera said the four swimmers arrived at the Shell gas station on Armando Lombardi Avenue in Rio’s Barra da Tijuca suburb because they wanted to use the bathroom after a night out on the town following the conclusion of the swimming portion of these Games.

But finding there was no available bathroom, Riera said, two of the men urinated at the back of the station and Lochte punched an advertisement in a metal frame, which fell noisily to the ground and attracted the attention of staff.

U.S. swimmer Jimmy Feigen to make charitable donation in exchange for his freedom

When the swimmers got back to their taxi, two security guards appeared with pistols in their belts. One of the security showed a police badge, which Riera suggested could have been false.

Bentz told the swimmers to come back because he believed the guards were police.

“Then Ryan began to argue, said, ‘I did nothing wrong’, and they made them sit on the ground with the firearm pointing to them. And a customer appeared who spoke English because the security did not speak English,” Riera said.

“Imagine what the conversation must have been like. A firearm, one talking Portuguese. the others talking English, totally frenetic, drunk and they came to an agreement to pay the damage. They gave a $20 note and 100 reals, and got another taxi and went away.”

Riera said Bentz and Conger, a three-time All-Met Swimmer of the Year from Rockville, had been shocked when police arrived to remove them from their plane on Wednesday.

Brazilians voice outrage as U.S. swimmers’ story unravels

“They didn’t know what was happening, they didn’t know what they could trust. I reached the station, they didn’t know me,” he said. “I showed the judge that they were just witnesses. They had nothing to do with the criminal facts committed and showed that they cooperated.”

Early Friday, Breno Melaragno, the lawyer for the fourth swimmer — Jimmy Feigen — said that under an agreement reached with a Brazilian judge, Feigen will donate roughly $10,800 to an unnamed institution and then depart the country, the Associated Press reported.

USA Swimming Executive Director Chuck Wielgus released a statement Thursday night apologizing for the swimmers’ behavior and promised to review the incident to determine any potential punishment going forward.

“While we are thankful our athletes are safe, we do not condone the lapse in judgement and conduct that led us to this point. It is not representative of what is expected as Olympians, as Americans, as swimmers and as individuals,” Wielgus said in part. “That this is drawing attention away from Team USA’s incredible accomplishments in the water and by other athletes across the Olympic Games is upsetting.”