What to Know
- Another cop in northern New Jersey admitted to conspiring to violate civil rights by participating in illegal traffic stops and shakedowns
- Frank Toledo, 30, of Paterson, to a three-count indictment; His sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 22
- Toledo is one of a staggering number of Paterson cops who have been arrested in an ongoing FBI probe
Another former police officer in northern New Jersey could spend decades in prison after admitting to conspiring to violate civil rights by participating in illegal traffic stops and shakedowns, according to federal prosecutors.
Frank Toledo, 30, of Paterson, pleaded guilty to a three-count indictment charging him with conspiracy to violate individuals’ civil rights, using unreasonable and excessive force in violation of individuals’ civil rights, and filing a false police report.
The conspiracy to violate civil rights and the deprivation of civil rights charges each carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. The false records count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
Toledo’s sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 22.
In a statement, Paterson Police Director Jerry Speziale Jr. said: "The Paterson Police Department will never tolerate or accept racism and corruption in its ranks. We identified this officer's behavior and took immediate action to investigate and cooperate with our federal law enforcement partners. I am committed to aggressively removing officers who betray the trust of the people that they serve. This officer has been terminated."
Meanwhile, Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh shared similar sentiments calling Toledo's behavior "racist and reprehensible."
"This is yet another frustrating and sad day for Paterson when a police officer once trusted to protect and serve betrays those who empowered him," Sayegh went on to say.
Court documents say that Toledo, along with other Paterson police officers, including Jonathan Bustios and Matthew Torres, stopped and searched motor vehicles, without any justification, and stole cash and other items from their occupants.
Toledo and the other officers also stopped and searched individuals on the streets of Paterson, and illegally took their money, prosecutors say, adding that Toledo and other officers arrested individuals in Paterson, took cash from them, and split it among themselves.
To cover up their alleged criminal activity, Toledo and other officers then filed false police reports. According to court documents, in one instance, on Dec. 2, 2017, Toledo and Ramos stopped and arrested an individual in Paterson and stole approximately $1,000, which they split, prosecutors say, adding that Toledo and Ramos then filed a false police report omitting that they had stolen $1,000 from the person they arrested.
According to the court documents, Toledo communicated via text message with his conspirators regarding their illegal activity. In one text message, on Nov. 16, 2017, Toledo wrote to Bustios, “everything we do is illegal.” In another, Bustios sent Toledo a text message with an animated talking pig that said, “I’m tryin’ to go mango hunting. Let’s goooo.” Toledo replied with an address and wrote “meet me here,” telling Bustios to meet him at a location where they could look to illegally seize “mangos,” a code word for cash.
Toledo also routinely used unreasonable and excessive force in his encounters with individuals in Paterson, causing them bodily harm, according prosecutors. In one of these instances, Toledo beat a minor who owed him money and told Bustios when he used force on the minor, “he was no longer a cop.”
In yet another incident detailed by prosecutors, Toledo and another officer arrested a man and handcuffed him behind his back, placed him in the backseat of their police car and hit the brake to force the man to slam his body and head against the divider – a tactic known as “brake-checking.” Prosecutors say he sent video of the incident to others.
Toledo is one of a staggering number of Paterson cops who have been arrested in an ongoing FBI probe.
Torres pleaded guilty May 13 to civil rights crimes related to illegal traffic stops and shakedowns, NorthJersey.com reported.
Bustios pleaded guilty December 2018 to violating civil rights and extortion. His sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 9.
In March, former Paterson officer Ruben McAusland was sentenced to 66 months in prison for dealing drugs – including some he stole from a crime scene while on duty – and taking part in the unrelated assault of the hospital patient.
That same month, another Paterson cop was accused of violating people’s civil rights in an elaborate scheme using code words to steal cash, prosecutors said.
On May 30, 2018, a police officer was arrested for allegedly assaulting a patient at a Paterson hospital, recording the incident on his cellphone and failing to include the assault in the related police report.
According to Sayegh, the city is taking steps to change the culture in the police department and its interactions with the community.
"The culture in the Police Department must change and I am committed to doing that. We are in the process of commissioning an independent audit of the Police Department and are including body worn cameras in this year's capital budget so that interactions with the police can be recorded," he said.