Three former NYPD officers from Long Island admitted to their roles in a scheme to sell personal information of victims in exchange for bribes, federal officials announced.
In Brooklyn federal court, Robert Hassett, age 36, of Farmingville, a former NYPD officer, pleaded guilty to conspiring to participate in a scheme to sell the personal information of automobile accident victims in exchange for thousands of dollars worth of bribes.
Prosecutors also said that Hassett also admitted that he participated in a scheme to steer vehicles damaged in automobile accidents to a tow truck company in contravention of NYPD’s Direct Accident Response Program (DARP) in exchange for cash.
The latest plea comes on the heels of former NYPD officer Heather Busch, age 34, of Massapequa, pleading guilty to accepting bribes in her connection to the scheme, and retired NYPD officer Robert Smith, age 44, of Plainview, who also admitted that he was complicit in steering tow truck companies to certain accidents as part of the scam.
At the time they were running the schemes, all three were active NYPD officers assigned to the 105th Precinct in Queens.
Acting US Attorney Jacquelyn Kasulis said that between 2016 and 2017, Hassett and Smith received thousands of dollars of bribe payments in exchange for referring business to a towing company, contrary to DARP.
Smith later resumed the scheme without Hassett in late 2019. When Smith retired from the NYPD in March 2020, Smith enlisted Busch to take his place.
In early 2020, Kasulis said that Smith and Hassett also sold the names and contact information of automobile accident victims whose accidents occurred within the confines of the 105th Precinct for thousands of dollars in bribe payments.
“Ostensibly so that the purchaser could resell that personal information to physical therapy businesses and personal injury lawyers who would contact the automobile accident victims as prospective customers,” she said.
It is further alleged that following his retirement in March 2020, Smith also agreed to transport a kilogram of heroin for a drug trafficking operation.
Since their arrests in May, Kasulis noted that Busch and Hassett have resigned from the NYPD.
“The (three) guilty pleas to accepting bribes are also acknowledgments that they abused the public trust and dishonored the NYPD by their actions,” Kasulis stated. “This office will continue working closely with our law enforcement partners to identify and prosecute corrupt police officers.”
When sentenced, Smith faces up to 25 years in prison, while Hassett and Busch are each facing up to five years behind bars. As part of their pleas, Smith agreed to forfeit $20,000, while Hasset agreed to a $10,000 fine and Busch will forfeit $6,000.
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