by Brooke Kaufman
Former NYPD officer Robert Smith, 45, of Plainview, NY, was sentenced to 97 months in prison for accepting bribes and attempting to transport heroin. Smith previously called himself one of the “most corrupt cops” in his Queens precinct. He retired from the NYPD in March 2020.
In 2021, Smith pleaded guilty to using interstate facilities to commit bribery and attempting to transport heroin.
Two other former NYPD officers, Heather Busch and Robert Hassett, also previously pleaded guilty to bribery charges. Busch was sentenced in February to six months in prison; Hassett is awaiting sentencing. All three officers worked at the 105th Precinct in Queens.
“Corruption not only endangers the communities that police officers are sworn to serve, but it also corrodes the public’s trust in law enforcement and the criminal justice system. Robert Smith and his co-defendants were corrupt officers who sold out their badges for personal gain without regard for the betrayal and the harm they caused the NYPD and their fellow officers,” United States Attorney Breon Peace said. “For his crimes, Smith, self-described as ‘one of the most corrupt cops in the 105,’ deservedly will spend years in prison. Today’s sentence should send a message that this office, together with our law enforcement partners, will work diligently to investigate and prosecute corrupt public servants who exploit their positions of power for profit.”
According to officials, starting in September 2016, Smith and Hassett purposefully bypassed an auto accident response system, Directed Accident Response Program (“DARP”), which randomly assigns licensed towing companies as responders and directed business to “an unnamed towing company in exchange for thousands of dollars in cash bribes.” The scheme stopped in June 2017 but was employed once again by Smith in November 2019. In January 2020, Smith posed the idea of recruiting Busch into the scheme; Busch agreed to participate in March 2020.
In January 2020, Smith and Hassett began using the NYPD database to provide the names and information of recent car accident victims to the towing company owner in exchange for cash payouts. This information was then sold to physical therapy businesses and personal injury attorneys. Between January and March 2020, Smith and Hassett were responsible for selling the identifying information of “more than 100 people in exchange for more than $7,000.”
Also in January 2020, Smith communicated with the tow company owner about transporting drugs for them once he retired from the police department. In June 2020, Smith told two people he would participate in drug trafficking and that he would carry a gun and his identification as a retired officer while doing so. In July 2020, Smith obtained what he believed to be a kilogram of heroin from a person in Brooklyn and transported the bag to Queens. Officials say he was given $1,200 cash for making the delivery.
Text messages obtained during the investigation revealed evidence of racialized policing. According to officials, Smith said he would “deliberately point his gun at Black people (whom he used a racial slur to describe) to see their reaction” before driving away. Court documents show that Smith also wrote he wished for “mass suicide and death” among NYPD officers.
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