A Long Island cop accused of shaking down Latino drivers at fault may have targeted at least 26 motorists during traffic stops, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Sgt. Scott Greene was indicted on more than 60 charges on Tuesday, including grand larceny as a hate crime. A Suffolk County grand jury unsealed the indictment.
Greene pleaded not guilty and was released without bail. His attorney declined to speak with reporters.
Prosecutors say Greene began targeting Hispanic drivers around 2010.
"This defendant has used the authority of the badge as purely a thief's motive," Newsday quoted Suffolk County district attorney, Thomas Spota, as saying during a Monday afternoon news conference. "In our view he was clearly targeting Hispanics who he knew were prone to carry cash."
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The investigation of Greene began in January after two Latino men said the police officer had stopped them in an area of Long Island which falls within his beat and took money from pay envelopes they had.
According to police, Greene was videotaped taking $100 in cash from an envelope on the front seat of a car driven by an undercover police officer. Greene makes about $127,000 and about $19,000 in overtime, Newsday reported in January.
Spota then assigned nine investigators and two prosecutors, all of them Spanish-speakers, to investigate further.
"It became fairly clear to us that this was not the first time Sgt. Greene had done this," Spota said.
Greene left the police force after his arrest.
The department says it's been working to build trust in the Hispanic community.
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.