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Judge: fall trial likely in Scott Greene hate crimes case

Scott Greene, a former Suffolk County police sergeant

Scott Greene, a former Suffolk County police sergeant with the Sixth Precinct, leaves court in Central Islip after an appearance on March 6, 2014. Greene is accused of stealing money from Latino immigrants he targeted in traffic stops. Credit: James Carbone

Another month has passed and a former Suffolk police sergeant charged with stealing from Hispanic motorists still has no defense lawyer.

State Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho told Scott Greene, 51, of Shirley, Tuesday that unless the case is resolved with a guilty plea, the case will go to trial in the fall.

Greene initially was represented by Timothy Mazzei of Blue Point, but when Mazzei became a judge last year, Greene was left without a lawyer. Greene has spent eight months trying to find a replacement with no success. He's told Camacho that lawyers either refuse to handle the case or quote a trial fee that's more than he can afford.

Earlier this month, Camacho sent Greene to the Legal Aid Society of Suffolk County to see if he qualified for a court-appointed lawyer. Edward Vitale, chief of the society's felony bureau, wrote to Camacho, "Mr. Greene is clearly not eligible."

"You're not eligible because you can afford to hire an attorney," Camacho told Greene Tuesday in Central Islip. "This case needs to be tried after the summer. We will do that one way or the other."

The judge said a lawyer could assist Greene in reaching a plea bargain but stressed that he's not intending to "coerce or force you to take a plea. If you're not guilty, you should go to trial."

At an earlier court appearance, Camacho told Greene that if he doesn't hire a lawyer, he'll have to represent himself at trial. Tuesday, he said he was satisfied that Greene was doing his best to get a lawyer.

Greene is charged with more than 20 hate crimes and faces a maximum of 46 2/3 to 140 years in prison 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 their wallets, went back to his patrol car and then returned the wallets -- with about $100 removed -- 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. Other drivers came forward later and said Greene did the same thing to them, prosecutors said.

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