A former Suffolk County police sergeant has been indicted on upgraded hate crimes charges for allegedly pulling over Hispanic drivers under the pretense of traffic violations and stealing their money, authorities said.
Scott Greene, a 25-year veteran who retired after his arrest in January, pleaded not guilty Monday at Suffolk County court grand larceny as a hate crime, petit larceny as a hate crime and seven counts of official misconduct.
Prosecutors said six witnesses positively identified the 50-year-old cop after having been either drivers or passengers victimized by Greene, who allegedly sought out Hispanic drivers with out of state license plates, since 2010.
“This defendant has used the authority of his badge purely for a thief’s motive,” Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota told reporters during a news conference at his Hauppauge office. “That is as an opportunity for him to steal. He’s brought discredit and shame to the badge that he once wore, but he will never wear again.”
Victims allegedly told investigators that Greene told them he was searching their vehicles for contraband when he stole cash in $50 or $100 increments.
The hate crimes charges were added because it is apparent that Greene specifically targeted only Hispanics, he added.
Ten victims have come forward since prosecutors announced that Greene was caught in a sting in which he stole cash from an undercover Hispanic officer that he had stopped. Authorities announced the charges a month after the county settled a federal investigation into the police department’s handling of hate crimes complaints from Hispanic Long Islanders.
Advocacy groups, particularly Make the Road New York, have been instrumental in helping to ensure additional alleged victims come forward without fear despite their immigration status. Investigators are also tracking down alleged victims in Ecuador, Honduras, and Mexico.
Greene faces up to seven years in prison for each charge of grand larceny as a hate crime.
Authorities urge anyone with information on this case to call 631-775-2077 or to contact Irma Solis at Make the Road New York 631-512-1587.