Prosecutors: Veteran officer intended to sell stolen police radio for $10K

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HEMPSTEAD -

Prosecutors say a veteran Hempstead village police officer stole an encrypted police radio and intended to sell it to a towing company for $10,000.

Officer Robert Van Wyen was arrested Tuesday morning.

"Listening to confidential, scrambled police communications can give a valuable advantage to a private towing company, or even imperil the safety of law enforcement," Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a statement after Van Wyen was arraigned.

In January, News 12 reported that multiple encrypted radios in Nassau County were unaccounted for.

MORE: Sources: Missing Nassau police radios could have been stolen, resold

Van Wyen's attorney says his client is not guilty. In fact, he says Van Wyen is a hero who literally took a bullet for the people of Hempstead village. A Hempstead officer was shot while on duty in December 2011, and attorney Anthony LaPinta says Van Wyen is that officer.

Van Wyen's arrest marks the latest instance of a Hempstead village official either being accused of or admitting to criminal behavior. Last year, the village's deputy police chief pleaded not guilty to bribing village trustee Perry Pettus to obtain his position. Pettus himself is facing multiple corruption charges. And earlier this month, school board member and now former village police Officer Randy Stith was forced to resign from the department after pleading guilty to a pair of misdemeanors.

Van Wyen is currently on medical leave from the department. He's due back in court next month. If convicted, he face up to seven years in prison.

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