Three NYPD cops arrested for alleged towing and drug roles

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Three NYPD officers from Long Island have been charged with their alleged roles in a bribery program for a tow company as well as drug trafficking, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Heather Busch, 34, of Massapequa, Robert Hassett, 36, of Farmingville, and Robert Smith, 44, of Plainview, were arrested on May 11 and charged with five counts of using inter- States to commit bribery and two counts of conspiracy to violate the travel law. Smith is also charged with attempting to transport at least one kilogram of heroin and possession of a firearm while committing the crime.

During the time of the alleged crimes, all three defendants were NYPD officers assigned to the 105th Precinct in Queens. Smith retired from the NYPD in March 2020.

“As alleged, the defendants shamelessly violated their oaths of office and public trust by exchanging their badges for cash payments,” said Acting United States Attorney Mark J. Lesko. “This office will vigorously prosecute corrupt officials like these defendants, who have exploited their police posts for personal gain.”

According to the charges, as of September 2016, NYPD officers Smith and Hassett reportedly responded to car crashes by directing damaged vehicles to a licensed auto towing and repair company operated by an individual instead of using the program. direct intervention in the event of an accident (“DARP”) of the department. . DARP requires that all NYPD officers identify an appropriate licensed tow truck company to respond to the scene of the car crash and remove damaged vehicles from the scene, and to ensure that no particular company receives a privileged treatment, officers are required to use a computer system that randomly selects a licensed towing company.

Smith and Hassett are said to have bypassed DARP each time and directed damaged vehicles to a business in exchange for thousands of dollars in cash bribes. Smith and Hassett reportedly suspended the program in June 2017 and Smith resumed it in November 2019. In January 2020, Smith reportedly discussed recruiting Busch into the plan before his retirement. Busch reportedly met Smith and the owner of the business in March 2020, at Smith’s invitation, and Busch agreed to participate in the program. Subsequently, Busch began directing vehicles damaged in car crashes to the only company in exchange for cash bribes, instead of using DARP as needed.

As of January 2020, Smith and Hassett are said to have obtained names and identifying information from the NYPD databases of recent auto accident victims and reportedly provided this information to the owner of the business for money. money. Smith and Hassett allegedly knew that the business owner would sell the information to physiotherapy companies and personal injury attorneys so that they could seek to solicit traffic accident victims as clients. On multiple occasions, Hassett allegedly accessed NYPD databases, in violation of NYPD regulations, in an attempt to obtain the names and credentials of victims of recent car accidents. Hassett then allegedly arranged for the information to be passed on to the owner of the business, sometimes through Smith.

With the information in hand, the business owner reportedly made payments to Smith, who redistributed a portion of the payments to Hassett. Between January and March 2020, Smith and Hassett reportedly sold the names and credentials of more than 100 victims in exchange for more than $ 7,000 in cash.

Smith also reportedly looked for opportunities with the business owner to transport illegal narcotics for cash in January 2020 when he retired from the NYPD. In June 2020, Smith reportedly met with two people to discuss his interest in participating in a drug trafficking program and told them he could carry a gun and his retired NYPD ID while carrying the drug.

In July 2020, Smith reportedly met an individual in Brooklyn and accepted a bag containing what Smith believed to be a kilogram of heroin. Smith then allegedly transported the bag to Queens and dropped it off with another person. Smith reportedly received $ 1,200 in cash for his participation.

“Behavior like the one alleged today is a disgrace. It erodes public confidence in law enforcement and tarnishes the reputations of the thousands of officers who honorably serve our communities every day. The FBI and the NYPD stand together on this point – Our common oath is to uphold the law and protect the public. No one is above the law and we will not tolerate any illegal behavior, especially in the ranks of sworn law enforcement, ”said FBI Deputy Director William F. Sweeney.

“There is no tolerance within the NYPD for corruption of any kind. Wherever it is alleged, our NYPD investigators, along with our partners in the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York, are working tirelessly to ensure that he is punished with any strictness of the law, ”NYPD said. Commissioner Dermot Shea.

If convicted, Smith faces up to life in drug trafficking, up to 5 years on each count of corruption and a mandatory consecutive five-year life sentence. for firearm. Hassett and Busch face up to five years in prison on each count of corruption, and the defendants each face up to five years in prison for conspiring to violate the travel law counts .


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