A group of rogue Paterson police officers who targeted pedestrians and motorists for stops just to steal their money exchanged texts about it, authorities revealed Wednesday.
The evidence, obtained by the FBI, is described in a nine-count federal grand jury indictment charging Officer Eudy Ramos, 28, of Paterson, with violating and conspiring to violate the victims’ civil rights, as well as with filing false reports to cover up his crimes.
Ramos was one of three city officers originally identified as being arrested and charged by the FBI last April.
He “targeted, stopped and searched” specific vehicles and “illegally seized cash” from the occupants from at least 2016 until April 2018 along with Officers Jonathan Bustios, Matthew Torres and two other officers who weren’t identified in the indictment, the grand jury found.
“They also illegally stopped and searched individuals in buildings or on the streets of Paterson and seized their cash,” U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said.
“They split the cash among themselves and submitted false reports to the [Paterson Police Department], omitting their illegal conduct or lying about it,” he said.
Ramos and the other officers communicated, in part, through text messages, the indictment says.
On Feb. 24, 2018, Ramos texted Bustios and Torres asking if they were in the mood for “weekend mangoes,” using the code word “mango” to refer to the illegal seizure of cash, Carpenito said.
The next day, Ramos texted Bustios about “tryna get someone in a car,” referring to what the U.S. attorney said was Ramos’s plan to illegally steal cash from the vehicle occupants.
On Dec. 7, 2017, Bustios sent a text message to Ramos that “83 auburn back door is open,” the FBI found.
The 83 Auburn Street address was one of several locations that Ramos and others targeted for illegal cash seizures, Carpenito explained.
“On my way,” he said Ramos responded.
Among the crimes, Carpenito said:
“On Feb.1, 2017, Ramos and another PPD officer stopped and searched a vehicle, detained and handcuffed the occupants, and stole approximately $10,000 from one of the passengers. Ramos and his conspirator split the money between themselves and omitted any mention of the $10,000 in the PPD incident report and prisoner property report.
“On Dec. 1, 2017, Ramos and Bustios stopped and searched an individual on a street corner in Paterson and stole approximately $1,000 from the individual. After the theft, a video of a portion of the encounter was posted to Twitter.
“On Dec. 7, 2017, Torres and Ramos conducted a vehicle stop in Paterson. Torres and Ramos searched the vehicle, the driver, and the passenger, who had $3,100 and marijuana.
“Ramos told the passenger that instead of charging the passenger with distribution of marijuana they could take $500 from the passenger and have the passenger sign a piece of paper. Ramos then purportedly placed a call to his superior and told the passenger that the superior officer said it had to be $800.
“Ramos took out a piece of paper, wrote on it, and told the passenger to sign it. The passenger did not know what was written on the paper.
“Afterwards, Torres and Ramos released the driver and passenger. Torres and Ramos shared the stolen cash proceeds. Ramos and Torres did not report the stop and search of the vehicle and its occupants, or the cash seizure, to the Paterson Police Department.”
FOR MORE DETAILS: Feds: Crooked Paterson Cops Stole Guns, Cash In Illegal Stops, Searches
Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI with the investigation leading to today’s indictment.
He also thanked the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, the Paterson Police Department, and the Paterson PD’s Office of Internal Affairs for their assistance.
Handling the case for the government is Assistant U.S. Attorney Rahul Agarwal, deputy chief of Carpenito’s Criminal Division in Newark.
RECOGNIZE HER? Paterson police turned to the public for help Wednesday in trying to catch a woman who robbed a local bank of more than $5,000.
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