Federal prosecutors say two New Jersey police officers stopped vehicles, detained the occupants and searched the autos without justification, sometimes also taking cash and other items.
The Paterson officers – Jonathan Bustios, 28, and Eudy Ramos, 31 – are charged with conspiring to deprive people of their civil rights under color of law.
In one instance, on Feb. 20, 2018, the officers pulled over a BMW and sandwiched it in front of and behind their respective police vehicles, according to the complaint. Bustios and Ramos searched the BMW and detained the two people in the BMW, putting them in the backseat of Ramos’ police car.
After searching the BMW, Bustios left the scene, drove for 10 minutes, then stopped his police car and took out a white plastic bag filled with cash, along with a firearm, according to the complaint. Bustios called Ramos, and Ramos then released the two detained BMW occupants, and drove to meet Bustios. Bustios passed some of the cash to Ramos through the window of Bustios’ police car.
Later that day, Bustios and Ramos turned in the gun they recovered, and allegedly lied in their report about having found the gun due to a tip by a concerned citizen. They made no mention of the fact that they’d stopped and searched the BMW, detained and searched the people inside, and taken cash — all without any warrants.
Bustios is also charged with extortion under color of official right for allegedly telling a man he had just arrested that he wouldn’t charge him and would let him keep the cash he had if he helped Bustios get a gun.
“I ain’t gonna charge you with resisting, and I’m letting you keep your money bro,” Bustios allegedly told the individual. “If you don’t wanna make the deal, you don’t have to make the deal.”
Prosecutors say the man ultimately agreed to the deal.
Both officers were arrested Wednesday morning and were due to make their initial court appearances later in the day. It wasn’t known if either man has retained an attorney.