PATERSON, N.J. – The FBI on Wednesday arrested two Paterson police officers – one of whom they said accepted a gun in exchange for reducing charges against a suspect – for pocketing cash and valuables during illegal traffic stops and searches, authorities said.
City Officers Jonathan Bustios and Eudy Ramos stopped vehicles, “detained the occupants and searched those vehicles without any justification,” U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said.
“On certain occasions, Bustios and Ramos also took cash and other items without justification before releasing the detained occupants,” Carpenito said.
Bustios, 28, and Ramos, 31, both of Paterson, were charged Wednesday morning with conspiring to deprive citizens of their civil rights. Bustios was also charged with extortion.
Both were due before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in federal court in Newark on Wednesday afternoon.
UPDATE: Passaic County Prosecutor Camela Valdes said Friday that her office is reviewing all cases involving two Paterson police officers charged by the federal government with pocketing cash and valuables during illegal traffic stops and searches.
While on duty Feb. 20, Bustios pulled over a BMW from behind while Ramos pulled up in front, Carpenito said.
They search the front, back and trunk while detaining the BMW’s two occupants in the back seat of Ramos’s patrol car, he said.
Soon after, Bustios “left the scene for ten minutes, then stopped his police car and took out a white plastic bag that was filled with cash,” as well as a firearm, the U.S. attorney said.
“He then called Ramos, after which Ramos released the two detained occupants of the BMW and drove to meet Bustios,” Carpenito said.
Bustios then “passed a portion of the recovered cash to Ramos through the window of Bustios’ police car.”
Later that day, Bustios and Ramos turned in the gun.
In their report, they “told a false story about having recovered the firearm due to a tip by a concerned citizen,” Carpenito said.
“In fact, there was no tip by a concerned citizen. They did not report to the Paterson Police Department that they had stopped and searched the BMW, detained and searched its occupants, and taken cash, all without any warrants,” he said.
In another incident, on March 14, Bustios arrested and detained an individual in the back seat of his police car, then told the man that he wouldn’t charge him with resisting arrest and would let him keep the cash he was carrying if helped him get a gun, the U.S. attorney said.
“I ain’t gonna charge you with resisting, and I’m letting you keep your money, bro,” Bustios reportedly said. “If you don’t wanna make the deal, you don’t have to make the deal.”
The individual ultimately agreed and directed Bustios to where he could find a gun, which the officer kept for himself, Carpenito said.
Records show Bustios didn’t charge the individual with resisting arrest – or mention that he’d seized a gun, the U.S. attorney said.
Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI with the ongoing investigation leading to Wednesday’s arrests. He also thanked the Paterson Police Department and its Office of Internal Affairs for their assistance.
Handling the case for the government is Assistant U.S. Attorney Rahul Agarwal, deputy chief of Carpenito’s Criminal Division.
ALSO SEE: What authorities said was the attempted murder of a 19-year-old Passaic man on a city street produced the arrests of five men -- one of them an ex-con who's already served state prison time for gun convictions.
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