LatinoJustice PRLDEF Criticizes DA Plea Bargain and Sentence of Sgt. Greene

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 4th, 2016

CONTACT: John Garcia, Director of Communications, 212-739-7513, 917-673-9095 or jgarcia@latinojustice.org.

In one of the biggest hate crime prosecutions in the history of New York State, affecting 26 Latino victims of multiple acts of larceny and racial profiling by a uniformed member of the Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD), the Suffolk County District Attorney today failed to recommend a minimum set criminal term of imprisonment against defendant SCPD Sgt. Scott Greene.

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas J. Spota also failed to procure a plea to at least one hate crime count, after bifurcating the underlying prosecution involving two separate indictments arising from the same series of “stop & rob” incidents perpetrated by Greene into two separate cases compromising the overall weight of the substantial testimonial evidence in favor of a global plea deal covering all counts in the second indictment.

Spota’s lenient approach in the case of the former sergeant who was systematically stopping and robbing Latino drivers for close to a decade deprived 20 more Latino victims of their day in court.

“The DA should have presented all 26 victims of these crimes in one trial so that the jury would have seen what the Latino community already knows: Sgt. Greene was targeting Latino motorists for abuse and robbery for years,” said Juan Cartagena, President & General Counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDEF which represents many of these victims in a separate civil rights case against Suffolk County and the Police Department.

Greene received 1 to 3 years in prison during a sentencing hearing today. Greene was acquitted in January on the more serious hate-crime larceny charge of targeting the men because of their ethnicity. However, a trial on a second indictment with 20 Latino victims who had already testified in the Grand Jury resulted in the indictment ready to proceed. Greene faced up to 8 years in prison if convicted of the felony hate crime larceny charge.

Greene was first charged with 21 counts in connection with six Latino civilian complaining witnesses and an undercover detective who recorded Greene’s theft from his car in a sting operation. Greene was acquitted of all charges emanating from four of the Latino victims in the first indictment, and found guilty of petit larceny, official misconduct and grand larceny in the fourth degree in the charges arising from two other Latino victims and the undercover detective.

Hispanic advocates have asked the U.S. Department of Justice to take over the Suffolk County Police Department given years of attacks against Latinos which have gone uninvestigated. The advocates cited the recent guilty plea of Suffolk County’s former Police Chief, James Burke, as further evidence of the need for DOJ to step in.

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