NEWARK, NJ – A Paterson police officer faces decades behind bars when he is sentenced on October 22 following his guilty plea in front U.S. District Judge Katharine S. Hayden in Newark on Tuesday.
According to a statement from U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito, Frank Toledo, 30, admitted conspiring 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.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners remain committed to identifying and prosecuting corrupt police officers who violate the civil rights of our people,” Carpenito said. “We will continue to aggressively pursue these cases, and we are grateful to our counterparts at the FBI, the Paterson Police Department and the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, for their dedicated assistance on this investigation.”
Toledo is one of several Paterson police officers, including Eudy Ramos, Jonathan Bustios, Daniel Pent, Matthew Torres, and others, whom, as previously reported, stopped and searched motor vehicles, without any justification, and stole cash and other items from the occupants.
Following the guilty plea Paterson Public Safety Director Jerry Speziale issued a statement saying that “the Paterson Police Department will never tolerate or accept racism or corruption in its ranks,” and renewed his pledge to continue to “aggressively remove officers who betray the trust of the people they serve.”
According to court filings the officers also stopped and searched individuals on the streets of Paterson, and illegally took their money, which they referred to as “mangos,” splitting it among themselves. To cover up their criminal activity, the report states, Toledo and his fellow officers then filed false police reports by omitting the cash that had been confiscated.
Police Chief Troy Oswald, whom has stated previously that the FBI investigation was launched at the Paterson Police Department’s request, also responded to the plea and offered that “the officers we have lost with recent prosecutions are officers who are not worthy of carrying the shield for this police department."
“When I became Chief of the Paterson Police Department I pledged my honor to protect and serve this community,” Oswald said. “I will continue to work tirelessly to see that every officer working for this Department demonstrates respect for the members of this community.”
Toledo is said to have communicated via text message with his conspirators regarding their illegal activity, including on November 16, 2017, when Toledo wrote to Bustios, “everything we do is illegal.”
In another, Bustios sent Toledo a text message with an animated talking pig that said, “I’m tryin’ to go mango hunting. Let’s goooo.” Toledo replied with an address and wrote “meet me here,” telling Bustios to meet him at a location where they could look to illegally seize “mangos."
Court documents also reveal that Toledo allegedly used excessive force on at three instances in 2017 including in one incident when he chased and apprehended a juvenile, pushed the juvenile to the ground, and punched the juvenile several times. Toledo is said to have later told Bustios, “I’ve been borderline blacking out when I catch these n[ ]” and “I beat that n[ ] like he owed me money,” offering that when he used force on the juvenile, he “was no longer a cop.”
In a second incident Toledo and Ramos are reported to have chased and tackled an individual and struck the individual several times in the body, only to release him without filing charges. The incident was recorded by a third party and uploaded to YouTube in response to which Toledo is said to have told Bustios that the individual who recorded the incident “missed the best part,” which, in his opinion, was when Toledo “laid him out.”
Toledo added, “funny shit is that we cut him” and “didn’t even lock him up.”
Finally, using a tactic known as “brake-checking,” Toledo is said to have recorded and shared a video that shows him depressing the brakes on his police car in order to force an individual handcuffed in the back seat to slam his body and head against the divider in the backseat of the police car.
“The FBI has a long history of standing with and assisting our fellow law enforcement officers,” Gregory W. Ehrie, FBI Special Agent in Charge in Newark, said. “When a police department finds rogue officers who violate civil rights, we will answer the call to help rid that department of anyone who tarnishes the badge they wear.”
Know a story we should share with readers? Email editor Steve Lenox and tell him about it.