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, and filing a false police report to conceal his criminal activity, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Police Officer Daniel Pent, 32, of Paterson, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Katharine S. Hayden in Newark federal court to an information 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.
According to documents filed in this and other cases and statements made in court:
Pent, along with Paterson police officers Eudy Ramos, Jonathan Bustios, Matthew Torres, Frank Toledo, and others, stopped and searched motor vehicles, without any justification, and stole cash and other items from the occupants. Pent and the other officers also stopped and searched individuals on the streets of Paterson, and illegally took their money. Pent and other officers arrested individuals in Paterson, seized cash from those individuals during the arrests, and split the cash proceeds among themselves. They covered up their criminal activity by filing false police reports. Pent admitted to the following illegal conduct:
• On Feb. 1, 2017, Pent and Ramos 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 May 27, 2016, Pent and Ramos arrested an individual, stole several hundred dollars in cash from the individual, and filled out a false currency seizure report that under-reported the amount of money the individual actually possessed. Pent and Ramos then applied a forged signature of the individual to the report to make it appear as though the individual had seen and agreed to the amount on the report.
While on official duty, Pent also routinely used unreasonable and excessive force in his encounters with individuals in Paterson, causing them bodily harm, including:
• Pent and other officers routinely delivered a “running tax” to individuals they arrested. If an individual ran from them, Pent and others would “tax” the individual by striking the individual multiple times, causing bodily injury.
• On Jan. 20, 2015, Pent and Ramos received a call regarding loud music coming from a vehicle on Doremus Avenue in Paterson. Pent and Ramos approached the individual in the vehicle, removed him from the vehicle and punched and kicked him. The individual suffered injuries, including eye injuries, as a result of Pent’s and Ramos’ excessive force.
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. Pent's sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 14, 2020.
Bustios pleaded guilty in December 2018 to conspiring to deprive individuals of their civil rights and to extortion under color of official right. He is awaiting sentencing. 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. 20, 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. Ramos pleaded guilty on Sept. 9, 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 Jan. 8, 2020.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. 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.
Defense counsel: Michael Calabro Esq., Newark