Five Latino men who identified a Suffolk police sergeant as the officer who pulled them over and stole their money testified Tuesday that no one coached them to pick out his photo.
The testimony came at the conclusion of a pretrial hearing for Scott Greene, 51, of Shirley, the former sergeant charged with multiple counts of grand larceny as a hate crime and other offenses in two indictments. Earlier in the hearing before state Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho, defense attorney Scott Gross had suggested that Make the Road New York, an advocacy group, had shown the men pictures of Greene before they picked him out of photo spreads.
“No, no one showed me anything until they showed me the six photos, and then I saw he was there,” Miguel Clemente said during questioning by Gross.
Another man, Fernando Galvez Valencia, testified that he met with Make the Road New York advocates, but they did not show him photos of anyone.
Irma Solis, formerly an advocate for Make the Road New York, said the group did nothing improper. The Suffolk district attorney’s office asked the group to find people who said they were victimized by Greene, and that’s all they did.
“We were never asked or deputized to assist in the investigation,” Solis said. “That’s their job.”
Gross has said the charges were the result of pressure brought by Latino advocates. He told Camacho Tuesday that he was waiting for the group to respond to a subpoena for documents related to the charges against Greene.
Jury selection will begin Dec. 16 and the first of his two trials will start Jan. 5. Before jury selection, Camacho said he would decide the issues from the hearing, which include whether the identifications of Greene and statements he made to investigators will be admissible at the trial.
Greene, who retired after his arrest last year, told investigators he stole from motorists because of financial and marital pressure, detectives testified.
Greene last month rejected a plea offer of 2 1/3 to 7 years in prison. If convicted of all charges, he faces a maximum of 11 to 32 years in prison.