3 NYPD Officers Indicted in Tow Truck Scheme; Officer Allegedly Used N-Word and Pointed Gun at Black People for Laughs


Illustration for article titled 3 NYPD Officers Indicted in Tow Truck Scheme; Officer Allegedly Used N-Word and Pointed Gun at Black People for Laughs
Photo: BrandonKleinPhoto (Shutterstock)

Somebody get Martin Scorsese on the line; I got a movie idea I want to pitch.

*Cue Tony Bennett’s “Rags to Riches” and Ray Liotta narration*

Three New York City police officers were arrested Tuesday and charged in connection with an alleged tow truck bribery scheme that involved officers taking thousands of dollars in exchange for sending car accident victims to one towing company instead of using a database system to assign a tow truck, which is standard procedure. The officer who started the scam allegedly pressured the owners of the company to expand it into a drug trafficking operation because—*freeze frame*—all his life, he wanted to be a gangster.

From the Washington Post:

Last January, New York police officer Robert Smith was about two months away from retiring.

But before he left the department, federal prosecutors said, he was set on recruiting another colleague to take over a year-longs bribery scheme he ran with the help of Officer Robert Hassett.

Smith and Hassett took thousands in cash from a tow truck company, according to court records, in exchange for sending victims of car accidents to the firm. Around the time he retired, Smith enlisted Officer Heather Busch, another of his colleagues from the Queens precinct, to take part of the illegal operation, the government said.

 The scheme reportedly jumped off in September 2016, when Smith and Hassett began assigning accident victims to a single towing company, which hasn’t been identified in court records, according to the Post. Their contact at the company allegedly deposited thousands of dollars into a mailbox the officers had access to.

In January 2020, the two officers allegedly took things up a notch and sold the contact information of recent accident victims whose names they found in NYPD databases. For this, the officers received more than $7,000 paid in cash, according to prosecutors who also said that the towing company sold that same info to physical therapists and personal injury attorneys.

So, Smith, Hassett and Busch—who will definitely be played in the movie by Paul Sorvino, Steve Buscemi and Joe Pantoliano respectively—were charged with multiple counts of bribery and conspiracy.

And because no New York-based crime drama would be complete without racist white people slinging around racial epithets in order to underscore their contempt for the moulinyan, prosecutors said that Smith “repeatedly used the n-word and expressed his support for the Ku Klux Klan,” the Post reports.

Prosecutors also accused Smith of threatening to “shoot” his contact at the towing company if he turned out to be a “rat.”

Meanwhile, Joe Pesci was just trying to enjoy himself at a bar when Billy Batts told him to “go get your fucking shine box” and all hell broke loose as Pesci and Robert De Niro stomped the shit…

Sorry, that’s a different movie.

In fact, this plot is starting to drag a bit—I mean, nobody has even gotten whacked yet and there’s just no way Scorsese is going to fill two and a half hours of screen time with this weak-ass tow trucking scheme—so let’s move on to the drugs.

More from the Post:

As Smith prepared to retire, he allegedly recruited Busch in March 2020 in exchange for more than $1,000 from the tow firm.

Around that time, Smith was also pressuring the tow company to help him set up a deal to transport drugs, prosecutors said. His contact eventually introduced him to an unnamed drug organization and in June 2020, Smith allegedly met with two of the organization’s drug traffickers about setting up a deal.

In July 2020, Smith drove from Uniondale, N.Y. to Queens to give someone a bag containing a kilogram of heroin while carrying his weapon, federal prosecutors said, in exchange for roughly $1,200 in cash.

All three officers appeared in court Tuesday after their arrest. Smith pleaded not guilty and prosecutors argued that he shouldn’t be released because he “poses a significant danger to the community and a flight risk.” Prosecutors also accused Smith of shaking down and robbing civilians while on duty.

Prosecutors said that Smith bragged about his side-shakedown hustle to other officers via text message.

“Bro, I robbed everyone,” prosecutors said he texted in reference to “individuals and businesses he tricked as part of the bribery scheme,” the Post reports. In another text he allegedly bragged about pointing his gun at Black people just for shits and giggles.

“Bro I point my gun out the window now at nigger and watch their reaction and drive away,” Smith texted, according to prosecutors. “Hilarious.”

“Now the real Smith will shine,” he allegedly wrote in another text. “I even shaved my head. Klan.”

According to the Post, the three officers are due back in court on May 19.

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