CENTRAL ISLIP - A Latino man took the stand Wednesday claiming a former Suffolk police officer stole his money during a traffic stop.
A total of 21 Latino drivers are expected to tell a Suffolk court they were targeted by former Sgt. Scott Greene.
The man testified that Greene stole money from his wallet during a 2013 traffic stop. Greene's defense attorney Scott Gross said while the money might have been missing, Greene didn't steal it.
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"He said money was missing, but never that Scott Greene took it," said Gross. "Our position is that he had lost that money. That he was engaged in some sort of illegal activity based on his prior criminal record, and that's where that money actually went."
Jose Perez, of the Latino Justice group, said the alleged victim on the stand shouldn't be discredited because of his past.
"Why would this individual have come forward otherwise? Why would he subject himself to this kind of open cross-examination and potential ridicule?" asked Perez.
Greene allegedly took $100 from an undercover investigator who was posing as an illegal immigrant last year. The incident was captured on video. Prosecutors have called Greene's actions a hate crime.
Gross said the only time Greene took money during a traffic stop was during that sting operation. It was also mentioned in court that prior complaints against Greene prompted the investigation.
The trial continues Thursday. Greene faces up to 20 years in prison.