A 25-year veteran of the Suffolk County Police Department in Long Island, New York was arrested in January 2014 for stealing $100 from an undercover Latino police officer pulled over during a traffic stop. Suffolk County Police Sergeant Scott Greene, 50, was caught on a hidden surveillance camera planted in the undercover car stealing the cash. Greene was charged with petit larceny and official misconduct.
According to Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota, Greene was targeting Latino drivers, pulling them over, and then stealing cash from their vehicles. Spota said, “I had the car driven by a Latino undercover officer from the District Attorney’s office to see if the sergeant would take the bait. And indeed, the first time we tried, he took the bait. It’s always a sad day when we have to announce the arrest of a police officer.”
The undercover car had a license plate that was intentionally dangling. After following the car in Coram, Long Island, Greene pulled alongside the vehicle at a red light, where he looked at the driver before pulling him over. Spota said, “In my view, he was looking at the driver because he was targeting Hispanics.”
After pulling the undercover detective over, Greene then order the driver out of the vehicle and made him stand behind the car. When Greene searched the car, he found an envelope with $1,200 in it. The envelope was filled with marked bills planted by the DA’s office. Greene was then caught on camera taking a $100 bill and putting it up his sleeve. According to Spota, Greene earned $170,000 in 2012.
The investigation was sparked after two Latino men who were stopped by Greene several months prior complained to the SCPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau. Green pulled the men over in the Farmingville-Medford area of Long Island. Investigators are now reviewing all of Greene’s traffic stops to determine if there is a pattern of him targeting Latinos. If investigators find such a pattern, Greene could face more serious hate crime charges. Spota said, “We strongly feel that this has occurred on a number of other occasions.”
In December 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice, along with Suffolk County and the SCPD reached an agreement over allegations that the police department was discriminating against Latinos. However, according to SCPD Commissioner Edward Walker, Greene’s arrest shows that his department takes such allegations seriously. He said, “If there is any good that comes from this, it is that the department wants the Latino community to know that when we receive a complaint, we treat it seriously.”
Authorities suggested that Greene targeted the Latino community because some are undocumented immigrants who are afraid to make complaints against the police.
Tim Mazzei, Greene’s attorney, denied the allegations. He said, “I know he’s a decorated police officer and needless to say, these allegations are very startling and very upsetting.”
Green was released without bail and could not be reached for comment.
Website Resources: Veteran Suffolk Police Sergeant Accused Of Stealing From Drivers During Traffic Stops, CBS New York
DA: Suffolk officer targeted Latinos and stole from them, Newsday, January 31, 2014, Chau Lam and Ellen Yan