Paterson Police Officer Admits Conspiring To Violate Civil Rights, Using Excessive Force, And Filing A False Police Report
NEWARK, N.J. – A City of Paterson police officer today admitted conspiring with other officers to violate the civil rights of individuals in Paterson, using unreasonable and excessive force against individuals in Paterson, and filing a false police report to conceal his criminal activity, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Eudy Ramos, 32, of Paterson, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Katharine S. Hayden in Newark federal court to Counts 1 and 7 of an indictment against him, charging him with conspiracy to violate individuals’ civil rights and filing a false police report. Ramos also pleaded guilty to an information charging him with using unreasonable and excessive force in violation of individuals’ civil rights.
According to documents filed in this and other cases and statements made in court:
Ramos, along with other Paterson police officers, including Jonathan Bustios, Daniel Pent, Matthew Torres, Frank Toledo, and others, stopped and searched motor vehicles, without justification, and stole cash and other items from the occupants. Ramos and the other officers also stopped and searched individuals on the streets of Paterson, and illegally took their money. He and other officers also arrested individuals in Paterson, seized cash from them during the arrests, and split the cash proceeds among themselves. To cover up their criminal activity, Ramos and his fellow officers then filed false police reports. Ramos admitted to the following instances of illegal conduct:
• On Feb. 1, 2017, Ramos and Pent stopped and searched a vehicle in Paterson. They stole approximately $10,000 from the passenger of the vehicle and split it between themselves. Ramos and Pent then submitted an incident report to the Paterson Police Department in which they intentionally omitted any mention of the $10,000 theft.
• On Dec. 1, 2017, Ramos and Bustios stopped and searched an individual on a street corner in Paterson and stole approximately $1,000 from the individual. After the theft, a video of a portion of the encounter was posted to Twitter by a third party.
• On Dec. 2, 2017, Ramos and Toledo arrested an individual. During the arrest, they stole $1,000 from the individual and split the proceeds.
• On Dec. 7, 2017, Torres and Ramos conducted a vehicle stop in Paterson. They searched the vehicle, the driver, and the passenger, who had approximately $3,100 and marijuana. Ramos told the passenger that instead of charging the passenger with distribution of marijuana they could take $500 from the passenger and have the passenger sign a piece of paper. Ramos then purportedly placed a call 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. Ramos and Torres released the driver and passenger and shared the stolen cash proceeds. They did not report the stop and search of the vehicle and its occupants, or the cash seizure, to the Paterson Police Department.
• On Feb. 20, 2018, Ramos and Bustios stopped and searched a vehicle and detained the driver and passenger of the vehicle. They stole a bag containing approximately $1,800 from the car. They then agreed to meet at Peach and Plum streets in Paterson, a location with no camera, where Bustios passed a portion of the illegally seized cash to Ramos through the window of Bustios’ police car. Bustios and Ramos did not report to the Paterson Police Department the fact that they had stopped and searched the vehicle, detained and searched its occupants, and taken cash, all without legal justification.
• On March 5, 2018, Ramos and Torres stopped and searched a vehicle, without legal basis. The occupants of the encounter filmed the encounter and posted the video to Instagram. They asked Ramos his basis for conducting the vehicle stop, and Ramos responded, “Random stop.” Ramos did not locate any cash inside the vehicle and departed the scene without taking anything.
While on official duty, Ramos also routinely used unreasonable and excessive force in his encounters with individuals in Paterson, causing them bodily harm:
• Ramos and other officers routinely delivered a “running tax” to individuals they arrested. If an individual ran from them, Ramos and others would “tax” the individual by striking the individual multiple times, causing bodily injury.
• On Jan. 20, 2015, Ramos and Pent received a call regarding loud music coming from a vehicle on Doremus Avenue in Paterson. They approached an individual in the vehicle, removed him, and began punching and kicking him. The individual suffered bodily injury, including eye injuries, as a result of Ramos’ and Pent’s excessive force.
• On Sept. 7, 2016, Ramos placed a handcuffed individual in the backseat of his police car, without a seatbelt, to transport the individual to Paterson Police Department headquarters. Ramos then depressed the brakes on his police car and forced the individual to slam his head against the divider in the backseat of the police car, a tactic known as “brake-checking.” After the individual slammed his head on divider, Ramos jokingly said, “What happened, man? You gotta put your seatbelt on.” Ramos recorded a video of this incident.
• On March 2, 2017, Ramos and Bustios were dispatched to a call regarding stolen property located in a vehicle in a parking garage. The individual who had stolen the property (Individual 1) was sitting in the vehicle. The individual whose property had been stolen (Individual 2) was angry and told Ramos and Bustios that he wanted to take a swing at Individual 1. Ramos and Bustios allowed him to do so. While Ramos and Bustios watched, Individual 2 punched Individual 1, who fell to the ground and hit his head, causing bodily injury. Bustios filmed the encounter.
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. The maximum fine for each count is $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 8, 2020.
Bustios pleaded guilty in December 2018 to conspiring to deprive individuals of their civil rights and to extortion under color of official right. Torres pleaded guilty in May 2019 to conspiring to deprive individuals of their civil rights and to filing a false police report. His sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 18, 2019. Toledo pleaded guilty in July 2019 to conspiring to deprive individuals of their civil rights, to using unreasonable and excessive force against individuals in Paterson, and to filing a false police report. His sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 22, 2019. On March 26, 2019, Pent was charged by complaint with conspiring to deprive individuals of their civil rights. The charge and allegations against him are merely accusations and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory 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.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rahul Agarwal, Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Defense counsel: Miles Feinstein Esq., Clifton, New Jersey