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John explores the illegal acts that two Paterson Police Departmentofficers conducted upon innocent motorists traveling within Paterson, New Jersey
Officers Jonathan Bustios & Eudy Ramos have been named in criminal charges from the FBI – Federal Bureau of Investigation
"By Allison Pries
NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Updated Apr 11; Posted Apr 11Two Paterson police officers were charged Wednesday with searching vehicles without justification and pocketing items, including cash, from the cars.
Jonathan Bustios, 28, and Eudy Ramos, 31, both of Paterson, were arrested by federal agents and charged with conspiring to deprive individuals of civil rights under color of law. Bustios was also charged with extortion after he offered to drop charges on a driver if the motorist told him where to find a gun, according to a statement released by U.S. Attorney Craig Carpentino.
Both officers will be suspended without pay by the end of Wednesday, Paterson Police Director Jerry Speziale said.
He said the investigation into Bustios and Ramos was initiated by the Paterson Police Department's chief's office and internal affairs unit. But Speziale declined to elaborate on what spurred it. "I really don't want to get too much into the mechanics," he said.
The police director credited the Early Warning Intervention Systems that Paterson implemented about three years ago. Attorney General Gurbir Grewal issued a directive last month that police agencies statewide adopt the same systems.
"They flag irregularities in police work," Speziale said, "sick time abuse, use of force, things of that nature."
Both officers had been on the force for "four or five years," Speziale said. He declined to comment on any previous disciplinary actions or commendations they might have received.
Investigators found that Bustios and Ramos allegedly stopped drivers, detained them and searched their vehicles without justification. On some occasions, authorities said, they stole items and then released the drivers.
On Feb. 20, for example, Bustios stopped a BMW. While he was parked behind the vehicle, Ramos parked his police car in front of the BMW. The officers then put the two occupants in the back of Ramos' car while they searched the BMW.
Bustios then left the scene and called Ramos 10 minutes later and told him to release the two occupants, authorities said. Bustios gave Ramos a cut of cash he took from the BMW, according to authorities.
The officers also turned in a firearm they found in the BMW later that day and wrote a report saying they got it through a tip from a concerned citizen, authorities said. They did not report that they stopped and searched the BMW.
The statement issued by Carpentino did not mention the reason for the initial traffic stop.
Authorities said Bustios' extortion charge stems from a March 14 incident where he arrested and detained an individual in the back of his police car, then told the person that he would not charge him with resisting arrest and would let him keep the cash on him in exchange for helping Bustios get a gun.
"I ain't gonna charge you with resisting, and I'm letting you keep your money, bro. If you don't wanna make the deal, you don't have to make the deal," Bustios told the driver, according to the statement.
The detained person agreed to the deal and sent Bustios to a location where there was a firearm, which he allegedly recovered and kept. And Bustios kept his end of the deal, according to Paterson Police Department records, and did not charge the individual with resisting arrest. His report made no mention of recovering a gun.
The conspiracy to violate civil rights charge, which both men face, carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Bustios' extortion charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
A grand jury in May 2017 found that Bustios was justified in shooting a man who fired at officers responding to a domestic dispute in Dec. 2016.
Allison Pries may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @AllisonPries. Find NJ.com on Facebook. "
- North Jersey.com