Stop and Rob in Suffolk County goes unpunished

LJP Criticizes Sentence and Plea Bargain of former Suffolk Police Sgt. Greene in “Stop and Rob” Case

In perhaps the biggest hate crime prosecution in New York’s history, former Suffolk County Police Sergeant Scott Greene was sentenced on March 4, 2016 to an indeterminate term of 1 to 3 years in jail, after having been convicted of felony grand larceny, petit larceny and official misconduct charges arising from his “stop & rob” of dozens of Latino motorists. The Suffolk County District Attorney who failed to recommend a minimum term of incarceration, surprisingly, offered the defendant a gift-wrapped plea bargain to a second pending indictment, which encompassed 60 separate charges arising from the defendant’s targeted thefts from 20 additional Latino motorists.

This Suffolk County District Attorney, shockingly, offered this plea without any prior discussion with any of the victims, many of whom are being represented by LatinoJustice in a pending 1983 civil rights action against the County. Many of the victims have described the involvement of other officers in Sgt. Greene’s robberies. The plea bargain offer would likely mean an end to any effort by the Suffolk District Attorney’s Office to investigate the role other SCPD officers played in Greene’s criminal scheme.

The Suffolk District Attorney’s failure to pursue a conviction against Greene of the multiple hate crime charges pending in the second indictment after he was able to engage in this pattern of robberies for a number of years undeterred by others in the SCPD sends a strong message that Latino immigrant victims of crime in Long Island are not treated equally. The Suffolk D.A. had compromised the case prosecution by bifurcating the two indictments arising from the same series of “stop & rob” thefts perpetrated by the defendant. This separation substantially compromises the overall weight of the evidence as to his pattern and practice of targeting Latino drivers. Any claims that Greene could not be legally found guilty of a hate crime are simply incorrect, as appellate courts have upheld hate crime convictions based purely on a defendant’s decision to target victims based on their race. The Suffolk D.A.’s lenient plea bargain offer in this case follows LJP’s 2008 complaint to the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) documenting the SCPD’s failure to investigate reports of Latinos being routinely subjected to hate crimes. The 2008 complaint triggered DOJ’s still ongoing investigation and oversight into the SCPD.