NEWARK — A Paterson police officer admitted to filing false police reports and shaking down drivers during traffic stops, according to the US Attorney's Office for New Jersey.

Matthew Torres, 30, of Paterson admitted in federal court to stopping and searching drivers and pedestrians without reason and stealing cash with several other officers  between 2016 and April 2018, according to U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito.

During the stops, the officers, who all worked the same shift, would lead the individuals who were stopped to believe the stops were "legitimate," and would file false police reports.

According to a complaint, the officers would communicate via text with each other when they would decide to carry out their activity. They would refer to cash as "mangos," according to the complaint.

Carpenito cited one case where authorities say Torres and Ramos stopped a driver in December 2017 who admitted to having a small amount of marijuana and $3,100 cash. The officers first told the driver they could give them $500 and sign a paper, according to Carpenito. Ramos then pretended to call his "supervisor" who said the driver needed to give him another $300 and sign another paper, according to Carpenito.

The U.S. attorney said the officers left the encounter off their daily activity logs.

Torres is the second officer to admit being part of the alleged shakedowns, while two others are also charged. Two other Paterson officers have admitted to other crimes.

The arrests come as part of an ongoing FBI probe into corrpution in the department.

Torres was charged with conspiracy to violate individuals’ civil rights and filing a false police report. He faces a maximum 20 year prison sentence on the false records charge and 10 years on the civil rights violation along with a maximum fine for each count of $250,000.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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