Paterson police officer who said ‘everything we do is illegal’ has been convicted

Two more former Paterson police officers face sentencing today in Newark Federal Court. Penalties are pending for Frank Toledo and Daniel Pend.

Frank Toledo was sentenced to 24 months

Former Paterson police officer Frank Toledo leaves Federal Court in Newark on July 16, 2019, after being arraigned on charges.

NEWARK – Sobbing throughout his lengthy court statement, convicted Paterson police officer Frank Toledo talked about the hardships of his childhood and the traumatic events of his adulthood, including the fatal shooting of a suspect.

Toledo said he eventually turned to his fellow rogue officers for “a safety net” as it “went against the oath I once took so proudly.” The disgraced cop also said he regretted committing crimes that further undermined trust between cops and the community at a time when there was “a lot of tension” with law enforcement.

Toledo attorney Dennis Cleary asked United States District Court Judge Kathryn Hayden to consider not sending his client to prison. The judge acknowledged “heartwarming letters” from Toledo’s wife, mother and other family members.

But Hayden said she had to keep in mind the victims who were beaten and robbed by Toledo and the other members of the rogue cops’ “robbery squad.”

“The people of Patterson need to know that Mr. Toledo … is paying his debt to them for what he did to them,” Hayden said.

In his statement, Toledo said Patterson officers forced him to return to work earlier than he was ready after he was involved in a fatal shooting in March 2017.

In that incident, Toledo shot a knife-wielding man who lunged at his partner, Matthew Torres, one of the other conspirators in the “robbery group.” The man, 37-year-old Ramon Andrade, died about two weeks later.

“I tried to make an effort not to be affected by the negativity in the department,” Toledo said in court Friday. “I feel like the department has failed me.”

Assistant United States Attorney Thomas Kearney acknowledged the hardships Toledo went through, but said they did not give him an excuse to commit his crimes.

“These difficulties cannot justify the actions Mr. Toledo took in 2017 and 2018,” Kearny said.

The prosecutor also took exception with Toledo blaming the Paterson Police Department for its wrongdoing.

“There were still officers doing things the right way,” Kearney said. “There were sergeants who did not steal money. There were other avenues besides adapting to the ways of the ‘robbery gang’.

Under federal sentencing guidelines, the prison term for the Toledo crime should have been between 30 months and 37 months, the judge said. But that range was reduced in exchange for his cooperation with the FBI, including his testimony in the trial that convicted Sgt. Michael Cheff last May, the judge said.

— Joe Malinconico

Bustios and Ramos have 2 years. Torres is put to the test

Toledo and Pent pleaded guilty in 2019 to conspiracy to violate the civil rights of individuals, use of unreasonable and excessive force in violation of the civil rights of individuals, and filing a false police report.

Three other participants in the fraud conspiracy were sentenced on Thursday. Jonathan Bustios and Eudy Ramos were sentenced to two years in prison, while Matthew Torres received probation.

Ramos had admitted to conspiring to deprive individuals of their civil rights, to use unreasonable and excessive force against individuals in Paterson, and to file a false police report. Bustios pleaded guilty to conspiracy to disenfranchise and racketeering, while Torres admitted to conspiring to disenfranchise and filing a false police report.

The FBI case:Seven Guilty Patterson Cops: Who Are They?

The United States Attorney’s Office asked for reduced prison time for the rogue cops as part of a deal made to get them to testify against their supervisor, Sgt. Michael Cheff, whose sentencing is scheduled for Monday.

The chef was convicted in May of conspiracy to defraud after a trial involving his five underlings

Prosecutors and U.S. District Court Judge Kathryn Hayden spoke of the need to balance the punishment of lawbreakers for flagrant public violations against the reward they earned for cooperating with the FBI’s investigation.

Deciding that Torres should not go to jail, Hayden noted that he saw attacks from his rogue friends, but did not cause any of the hits. He also said he had shown “genuine moral distress” over the crimes and had contacted the authorities about the offence.

The FBI probe began investigating Paterson police in 2016 and made its first arrests in court in 2018. The federal investigation also led to federal prison terms for two Paterson police officers who were not directly connected to the “robbery ring.”

FBI agents looking for information on the illegal disturbances learned of another patrol officer, Reuben McAusland, who was selling drugs out of his Paterson police vehicle while on duty.

The FBI collected video and audio recordings of McAusland’s frequent drug sales over the months and arrested him in April 2018. McAusland’s arrest sparked another case.

Investigators found a video on McAusland’s cell phone that recorded him and his police partner, Roger Then, assaulting a suicidal patient in a hospital emergency room in March 2018. McAusland and Then eventually pleaded guilty to their crimes .

McAusland was sentenced to 66 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to drug trafficking and the hospital assault. He is currently being held at the Federal Correctional Institution in Milan, Michigan and is scheduled to be released in March 2024. He then served six months in prison for his role in the ER incident and was released in early 2020.

Joe Malinconico is an editor at Paterson Press. Email:

This article originally appeared on Paterson NJ Police Officer Frank Toledo Sentenced to 24 Months

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