Home News Three NYPD officers arrested over tow truck bribery scheme

Three NYPD officers arrested over tow truck bribery scheme

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Noah Goldberg

New York Daily News

Three NYPD officers were arrested Tuesday over accusations they collected thousands of dollars in bribes for funneling cars damaged in crashes to a tow trucking business, authorities said.

Robert Smith, the retired officer, and Robert Hassett and Heather Busch, who are currently employed by the NYPD, responded to car crashes as part of their job and in exchange for kickbacks made sure the vehicles went to a specific tow truck and repairs business, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

Smith started the scheme in 2016 and Hassett joined in 2017, according to the feds. When Smith retired from the force at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic he recruited Busch into the racket.

The scheme went further, with Smith and Hassett allegedly giving the contact info on crash victims to another unnamed individual for bribes — so that person could sell the information to physical therapy businesses and personal injury attorneys.

On top of that, Smith tried to help a criminal organization by moving drugs in exchange for money — though this came after he retired from the NYPD, according to the feds.

In July 2020, the retired officer met with a person he thought was a drug trafficker and accepted a baggie “containing what Smith understood to be a kilogram of heroin,” prosecutors said. He took the bag to another person and was given $1,200 in cash for his work, the feds said.

Smith was caught using racist language over text messages, the feds said.

“Smith’s unabashedly racist and hate-filled language in his communications included regular references to Black individuals as ‘n—–s’ and numerous references to the Ku Klux Klan, including one — just after his retirement — in which he wrote, ‘Now the real [S]mith will shine. I even shaved my head. Klan,’” wrote Ryan Harris, the assistant U.S. Attorney on the case.

“Following his retirement from the NYPD, [Smith] stated that he would brandish his firearm in front of Black individuals to terrorize them: ‘Bro I point my gun out the window now at n—–s and watch their reaction and drive way. Hilarious,’” Smith allegedly wrote in another text message, according to prosecutors.

In one recording, Smith called himself “one of the most corrupt cops in the 105 (precinct)″ and said that if he wasn’t a cop he would have been “locked up so many times,” according to prosecutors.

Smith had 33 complaints from the public filed against him while serving in the NYPD dating back to 2002, but only a single charge against him was substantiated, for using offensive language about gender in 2011, according to Civilian Complaint Review Board records.

The feds are seeking to hold Smith without bail while they are asking for significant bond packages for Busch and Hassett.

There three officers were hit with charges of using interstate facilities to commit bribery, while Smith also was slapped with attempted distribution of heroin and possessing a firearm during a drug trafficking crime.

Smith faces up to life in prison.

The trio are expected to have their initial court appearances in Brooklyn Federal Court Tuesday afternoon.

©2021 New York Daily News. Visit nydailynews.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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