Paterson cops charged with keeping cash and guns in bogus stops
PATERSON — Two city police officers are facing federal charges of violating the civil rights of people they pulled over earlier this year.
Jonathan Bustios, 28, and Eudy Ramos, 31, were arrested on Wednesday. The officers were investigated after allegations they would pull over cars, search the vehicles and take cash or other items for themselves.
In February, Bustios pulled over a BMW and parked behind it while Ramos pulled in front. The two occupants of the car were put in the back of Ramos' patrol car while the two officers searched the BMW, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said.
After searching the car, Ramos drove 10 minutes away before stopping and taking out a plastic bag filled with money and a gun he had recovered, Carpenito said. When Bustios caught up to Ramos, he was given a portion of the money, authorities said. When they returned to headquarters, the officers handed in the weapon but said they got it after a tip from a concerned citizen. There was never any mention of the stop or any of the details of the stop, according to the complaint against them.
In addition to being charged with conspiring to deprive individuals of civil rights under color of law, Bustios is also charged with one count of extortion under color of official right. That charge stems from an incident last month when he arrested someone and placed them in the backseat of his car. The officer told the person they would not be charged with resisting arrest and would be able to keep the money they had if they told Bustios where he could find a gun, according to Carpenito. While the complaint said the individual had "several hundred dollars," Bustios said he would only report him having $100.
"I ain't gonna charge you with resisting, and I'm letting you keep your money, bro," Bustios told the person, according to Carpenito.
While he said he would not charge the person with resisting, Bustios did say that they would be charged with either possession or possession of intent to distribute, according to the complaint. The person asked if he would be charged with possession of "four bricks," to which Bustios said it would be for three bricks or two bricks, the complaint said.
When the person asked him about the possession charge, Bustios told him, "Well, I gotta charge you for two bricks. It's the same charge regardless, you know that right? It's the same charge." The person agreed to the deal with Bustios, who found the gun he was told of but did not report it to police.
Police Director Jerry Speziale told New Jersey 101.5 that the arrests came as a result of an investigation that started in January 2017. He said he was awaiting paperwork that would result in the officers being suspended without pay pending the results of the charges.
"While it's a sad day for the city of Paterson it is also a day that we removed those allegedly responsible for committing acts and not serving the public and breaking the public's trust," he said.
According to state pension records, Ramos and Bustios have both been on the force for three and a half years. Bustios has a base salary of $47,607, while Ramos has a base salary of $49,221.
If convicted of conspiracy to violate civil rights, the officers face up to 10 years in prison. Bustios could face a maximum sentence of 20 years for the extortion charge.
New Jersey 101.5 did not know as of Wednesday afternoon whether Bustios or Ramos were represented by attorneys.
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