After hearing all testimonies, mainly from the alleged victims and officers involved in the investigation against Suffolk County former sergeant Scott Greene, the jury began deliberations to determine Greene’s responsibility in the 21 count indictment.
Prosecutors as well as the defense counsel made their closing statements Wednesday, asking all 16 members of the jury to make a judgment based on the presented evidence. A unanimous verdict is needed for each count against the former sergeant.
Supreme Court Judge Fernando Camacho reminded the jury that an indictment is only an accusation to formulate charges, and directed them to decide the case based on the evidence or the lack of evidence presented during the trial.
The first thing the jury must decide is if Greene was guilty of larceny as a hate crime, according to Judge Camacho. If he is found guilty of a hate crime, the most serious charge, he will face increased penalties under the hate crime statute. Then the jury will continue to deliberate on 7 different counts of misconduct, one for each victim. Greene could face a sentence of 7 to 20 years if convicted of a hate crime.
Judge Camacho told members of the jury to make deliberations based only on the evidence that they conclude is believable.
During closing statements, Greene’s defense counsel, Scott Gross, admitted his client is guilty of official misconduct and petit larceny for taking a hundred dollar bill from the undercover detective’s vehicle. According to Gross “there is no evidence” that Greene has committed a hate crime. “Hold him accountable for what he did, not for what he did not do,” Gross said to the jury.
He asked the jury not to make a decision based on assumptions. “They [prosecutors] will ask you to presume and assume,” Gross said. “Scott Greene was targeting Hispanics because he knew they were carrying cash? They want you to presume that!”
Gross argued once again that the operation to arrest Greene resulted from an agreement between the Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD) and the Department of Justice to improve relationships with the Hispanic community. Because of this federal stipulation, he said, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s (SCDA) office asked a Latino organization to bring more names of victims. Before his closing remarks, Gross presented to the Court the last page of the agreement signed between the SCPD and the Department of Justice as a piece of evidence. According to Gross, the date that the document was signed, January 2014, was weeks before Greene’s arrest and is strong evidence that the SCPD was under pressure.
The prosecutors denied that the allegations against Greene were fabricated. They said that the SCDA office was involved in the investigation since 2013. They confirmed that the Latino organization provided information about possible victims, but investigators corroborated that information using computer systems and transactional databases. “If they were making it all up, they would have known the details.”
They asked the jury to use their common sense. They said that the defendant had no reason to check the victim’s wallets or make them get out of their vehicles. They said the fact that all the victims were undocumented Hispanics is enough evidence to prove that Greene was targeting this vulnerable population.
The prosecutors said that all Greene’s victims were Hispanics, undocumented, unlikely to report the incidents, not able to speak enough English, and they all carry cash. “He repeated this conduct to a specific ethnicity.” The evidence consistently shows “that he stole money from Hispanics because he thought he was going to get away with it.”
During the course of the trial prosecutors called the SCDA investigators who conducted research to verify the information given by the alleged victims. Using a transactional database program, they searched for information that former sergeant Greene entered into computer system when he made the traffic stops. They were able to corroborate that those stops actually took place.
On Tuesday, before the trial was over, the defense counsel submitted an application requesting that the Judge dismiss the hate crime component on all charges. He argued that “the people have failed to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt” and have failed to provide sufficient evidence.
Judge Camacho has not made a decision in regards of the application. However, he can still make a decision about the request even after the jury has a verdict.