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DA: Suffolk cop targeted Latino drivers, stole their money

Suffolk prosecutors allegedly captured the police sergeant pocketing cash during a sting operation.
Suffolk prosecutors allegedly captured the police sergeant pocketing cash during a sting operation.
Handout/SCDA Video

A Suffolk County police sergeant found himself on the wrong side of the law Thursday night and under arrest when district attorney’s investigators allegedly caught him in a sting operation stealing money from a motorist he pulled over, Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota said Jan. 31.

Sixth Precinct Sgt. Scott A. Greene, who lives in Shirley, was busted after being caught on videotape during an undercover sting operation by the Suffolk County DA’s Government Corruption Bureau, Spota said.

An undercover investigator – who is Latino – drove past Greene’s patrol car Thursday night in Coram before the two were next to each other at a red light and the veteran officer peered into the vehicle to look at the driver, prosecutors said. After the light turned green, the officer initiated a traffic stop and ordered the driver to stand behind the car.

A surveillance video from inside the car allegedly showed Greene taking money from an envelope. In a video played by prosecutors at a Friday news conference, he appears to fold a marked $100 bill and slide it into his shirt sleeve.

“We set up a sting to catch him in the act and that’s exactly what happened last night,” Spota said in announcing criminal charges against the sergeant. “We believe [he] has been targeting Hispanic motorists and stealing cash from them during traffic stops.”

The district attorney’s probe began after two Latino men allegedly complained to police a few months ago that they were pulled over in Farmingville and that the officer took cash from envelopes containing their pay. Spota said investigators were also speaking with a third possible victim.

Greene pleaded not guilty Friday morning to official misconduct and petit larceny charges during an arraignment at Suffolk First District Court in Central Islip. He was released without bail and could not be reached Friday for comment.

The latest available payroll records show Greene was hired by the police department in February 1989 and collected a salary of $177,709 in 2013. It was unclear Friday if he has been suspended from his supervisory post.

A Suffolk County police spokeswoman declined to comment on Greene’s arrest Friday afternoon.

His attorney, Tim Mazzei, did not immediately return a telephone call requesting comment.

Last month, Suffolk County reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice after a federal probe regarding allegations of discriminatory policing against Latino immigrants. The probe stemmed from the 2008 hate-fueled slaying of Ecuadorean immigrant Marcelo Lucero in Patchogue.

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