Paterson Police Officer Pleads Guilty to Civil Rights Violations, Filing False Police Report
A City of Paterson police officer today admitted conspiring with other officers to violate the civil rights of individuals in Paterson, and to filing a false police report to conceal his criminal activity, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Police Officer Matthew Torres, 30, of Paterson, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Katharine S. Hayden in Newark federal court to an information charging him with conspiracy to violate individuals’ civil rights and filing a false police report.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Torres, along with other Paterson police officers, including Eudy Ramos, Jonathan Bustios, Daniel Pent, and others, stopped and searched motor vehicles, without any justification, and stole cash and other items from the occupants of the motor vehicles.
Torres and the other officers sometimes used fake paperwork to trick individuals into believing that the cash seizures and vehicle stops represented legitimate law enforcement encounters.
Torres and the other officers also stopped and searched individuals on the streets of Paterson, and illegally took their money. To cover up their criminal activity, Torres and his fellow officers filed false police reports.
For example, on Dec. 7, 2017, while on duty, Torres and Ramos conducted a vehicle stop in Paterson. Torres and Ramos searched the vehicle, the driver, and the passenger.
The passenger advised Torres and Ramos that he had a small quantity of marijuana. He also had approximately $3,100. Ramos and Torres told the passenger that they could take $500 from the passenger and have him sign a piece of paper.
Ramos then placed a call, purportedly to his superior, and told the passenger that the superior officer said it had to be $800. Ramos took out a piece of white paper, wrote something on it, and told the passenger to sign it. Afterward, Torres and Ramos released the driver and passenger.
Torres and Ramos stole approximately $800 from the passenger, and they shared the stolen cash proceeds. To conceal their theft of monies, Torres and Ramos each omitted the encounter from their daily Paterson Police Department activity logs.
The conspiracy to violate civil rights charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. The false records count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. The maximum fine for each count is $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 9, 2019.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s arrest. He also thanked the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes, the Paterson Police Department, under the direction of Paterson Police Director Jerry Speziale and Police Chief Troy Oswald, and the Paterson Police Department Office of Internal Affairs, for their assistance in the investigation.