Michael Scheff, the sergeant that federal prosecutors said was the leader of a crew of rogue cops, was sentenced to prison Monday morning.
Chef was sentenced to 33 months
Michael Scheff was the only Paterson police officer in the case to maintain his innocence and take his case to trial last May. But he was convicted by a jury that deliberated for more than 10 hours over two days.
The other convicted officers – Jonathan Bustios, Daniel Pedd, Eudy Ramos, Frank Toledo and Matthew Torres – all pleaded guilty and eventually received reduced prison time in exchange for testifying against Sheff.
Former police officers who Sheff supervised testified at his trial that he took a share of the illegal money they stole from people, looked the other way when they filed false police reports about their crimes and coached them on how to avoid getting caught.
Under federal sentencing guidelines, Sheff faced a range of between 33 and 41 months in prison. The other five crooked cops got 30 to 37 months, but the judge and federal prosecutors agreed to reduce the others’ prison terms because of their cooperation in Cheff’s case.
Bustios, Ramos and Toledo were sentenced to two years, Pedd to 18 months and Torres will be given probation instead of jail time.
Several of the rogue cops testified at trial in a November 2017 case in which they said Sheff took more than $2,000 from a suspected drug dealer’s bedroom safe in the now-demolished Riverside housing projects, but kept most of the cash. for himself.
Bustios had sent Toledo a text message immediately after the incident complaining that Chef had not split the money. Toledo responded with a message saying the sergeant could be counted on to protect the self-proclaimed “robbery squad” of crooks, saying the sergeant would “look us out no matter what.”
During the trial, Sheff’s lawyers argued that the rogue officers had committed such heinous crimes that they lacked credibility and were lying about their sergeant to help themselves. The chef’s lawyers had argued that all he was guilty of was being too lax by a supervisor who failed to recognize the misconduct of the officers who committed the crimes.
To support this argument, Cheff’s lawyers pointed out that none of the thousands of text messages used as evidence in the case were written by or to Cheff. But prosecutors argued that Sheff’s lack of messages simply showed he was smarter than others who left an electronic trail of evidence of their crimes.
— Joe Malinconico
Other cases plague the Paterson Police Department
The FBI investigation into the robbery ring led to the convictions of two other Paterson cops who were not part of the shakedown scheme. While investigating the officer’s attacks, the FBI learned of another officer, Reuben McAusland, who was selling drugs out of his Paterson police vehicle while on duty.
When McAusland was arrested on drug charges, FBI agents found on his phone an emergency room video of him and his police partner, Roger Then, beating a patient who killed himself in March 2017.
McAusland was sentenced to 66 months in federal prison and is currently being held at the Federal Correctional Institution in Milan, Michigan. He 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.
In an unrelated case, two other Paterson police officers — Kevin Patino and Kendry Tineo-Restituyo — face federal civil rights charges in connection with a December 2020 videotaped incident in which Patino repeatedly punched a 19-year-old man in South Paterson.
Also, former city police officer Spencer Finch faces state criminal charges for an alleged unprovoked assault on a man involved in a domestic dispute in May 2021. The Finch incident was caught on another Paterson officer’s body camera. City officials fired Finch, but Patino and Tineo remain on paid leave pending the outcome of the case against them.
Joe Malinconico is an editor at Paterson Press. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Paterson police ‘robbery squad’ leader Michael Cheff sentenced