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Judge ponders whether ID evidence can be admitted to trial of former Sgt. Scott Greene

Former Suffolk County cop Scott Greene exits a

Former Suffolk County cop Scott Greene exits a courtroom at Central Islip Criminal Court on Tuesday, June 24, 2014. Credit: James Carbone

The actions of an advocacy group that Suffolk prosecutors used to find Latino men who said they were victimized by a Suffolk police sergeant could undermine the criminal case against the sergeant.

The issue arose in a pretrial hearing in Central Islip Thursday in the case against former Sgt. Scott Greene, 51, charged with multiple counts of grand larceny as a hate crime and other offenses. He is accused of pulling over Latino drivers and stealing their money.

One key question in the hearing is whether the men's identification of Greene in photo arrays and lineups will be admissible at his trial. If state Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho finds the men were encouraged by advocates to identify Greene, he may suppress that evidence.

Greene, of Shirley, was arrested Jan. 30, 2014. Defense attorney Scott Gross of Garden City said that five days later, prosecutors met with officials of Make the Road New York, a Latino advocacy group, and asked for help finding other victims of Greene.

Gross argued that he should be able to question those who say Greene stole from them and ask if advocates showed them photos of Greene before they identified him to police.

Camacho said Gross was right. "If the complainants were in fact shown single photographs of Mr. Greene before the photo array, there might be some taint" of the identification procedure, Camacho said. He ordered prosecutors to bring the men to court on Dec. 8.

In March 2014, a Newsday story described four Latino men in a Coram house looking at photographs of Greene and agreeing he was the one who had stopped them and took their money. During the hearing, several detectives testified about showing photo arrays to potential victims in February 2014 and having others view lineups in May 2014.

Earlier yesterday, the detective sergeant who first arrested Greene testified that while Greene volunteered several reasons for why he did it, hatred for Latinos wasn't one of them.

"He never indicated any bias or hatred toward Hispanics, right?" Gross asked Det. Sgt. David Tricamo. "That's correct," he replied, adding that Greene never suggested he was targeting Latino drivers.

However, Tricamo said he believed other evidence showed Greene was doing just that. More than 60 percent of the drivers Greene was pulling over were Latino, an unusually high ratio, Tricamo said.

Tricamo said Greene told him marital and financial issues were his motivation. Tricamo conceded he did not advise Greene of his rights while they talked. "I just let him speak," Tricamo said. "I told him, 'You do not have to talk to us.' "

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