A Suffolk judge Friday told a former police sergeant charged with stealing from Hispanic motorists that he's taken far too long to find a defense lawyer and he's going to trial soon, whether he has an attorney or not.
For much of the past seven months, Scott Greene, 51, of Shirley, has been coming every few weeks to state Supreme Court in Central Islip to update Justice Fernando Camacho on his quest to find an attorney.
Almost every time, Greene has told Camacho that he met with a number of lawyers, but that they either wouldn't take his case or he couldn't afford them.StoryEx-Suffolk cop faces hate crime chargesStory60 new counts for ex-cop accused of targeting LatinosStoryLawyer: Latinos shouldn't have to fear cops
Greene said the same thing Friday, but this time Camacho told him he can't keep saying the same thing forever.
"This case is going to proceed," Camacho told Greene. "You're going to have an attorney, or you're going to represent yourself. I don't think you're making the efforts you need to move this case forward. It won't stay in limbo."
Greene is charged with more than 20 hate crimes and faces a maximum of 46 2/3 to 140 years on those charges. He's accused of targeting Hispanic motorists with out-of-state license plates in traffic stops in the Coram area. Prosecutors say he asked for the drivers' wallets, went back to his patrol car and then returned the wallets -- minus about $100 -- and let them go without writing a ticket.
Greene was first targeted in a sting in January 2014, a result of a half-dozen other drivers identifying him as the officer who pulled them over and stole their cash, prosecutors said.
Greene was arrested after he was recorded on video taking $100 cash from an envelope on the front seat of a car driven by a Hispanic undercover detective, prosecutors said. He retired shortly after he was arrested, ending a 25-year career.
Greene initially was represented by Timothy Mazzei of Blue Point, but when Mazzei became a judge last year, Greene was left without a lawyer. He hired another lawyer, but they parted ways after a short time.
"I didn't fire the last attorney," Greene said, differing with Camacho's characterization. "He withdrew."
Camacho said that lawyer told him Greene threatened to file complaints against him with the Suffolk Bar Association, adding that seemed like a firing to him.
Camacho said the trial will be in early September. He told Greene to come back to court July 14, with or without a lawyer, to set a firm trial date.