A retired NYPD officer facing bribery and drug trafficking charges who allegedly bragged he was “one of the most corrupt cops” in the 105th precinct is expected to leave federal lockup soon after a judge’s approval Wednesday of a $1.5 million bond package.
A federal prosecutor said Robert Smith, 44, of Plainview, was a flight risk and danger to the community after an “escalating pattern of criminality” led to his arrest last week with two NYPD officers from his former Queens precinct.
“By the defendant’s own description of himself in intercepted communications here, he called himself one of the most corrupt cops in the 105,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Harris said Wednesday, while arguing for Smith’s detention before trial. “He says that he himself would have been locked up so many times if he was not a cop.”
But Smith’s attorney, John Ray, countered in a court hearing carried out by telephone amid the coronavirus pandemic that the chances his client would go on the run were “virtually nil.”
Terms of Smith’s release will include home confinement and electronic monitoring. He surrendered his passport and his bond will be backed with the home he shares with his wife of 18 years and their two children, along with a Brentwood property he owns and a sibling’s home.
“This is not on the level of a major crime figure who needs to be locked up no matter what,” Ray told U.S. District Judge Rachel Kovner. “You have a guy, that, if you believe the government, gets caught on a pedestrian series of boneheaded moves that are all recorded very carefully by the government.”
Court records show Smith and co-defendants Robert Hassett, 36, of Farmingville, and Heather Busch, 34, of Massapequa, previously put in not guilty pleas. The NYPD suspended Hassett and Busch without pay.
Hassett’s attorney, Jonathan Manley, said in a statement Wednesday that the case was still in its preliminary stages.
“We look forward to reviewing the evidence in this case and vigorously defending Robert against these charges,” he added.
Busch’s attorney didn’t immediately return a request for comment. A spokesman for Eastern District prosecutors declined to comment.
A nine-count indictment accuses all three defendants of taking thousands in cash bribes from the operator of a tow truck and auto repair business in exchange for directing damaged vehicles to the company after crashes instead of using an NYPD computer system that picks vendors randomly to avoid favoritism.
Smith, who retired last year, and Hassett also allegedly sold the names and identifying information of more than 100 crash victims they retrieved from NYPD databases to the same business owner for more than $7,000 in cash, knowing the owner would then sell the names to physical therapy companies and personal injury attorneys.
The indictment also charges Smith in an alleged armed drug trafficking scheme, accusing him of transporting a bag of what he believed was a kilogram of heroin from Uniondale to Queens while carrying a gun in July.
Federal prosecutors alleged the episode took place after Smith, who made $1,200 for delivering the bag, asked the tow business operator to introduce him to drug traffickers.
Kovner’s ruling Wednesday affirmed a magistrate judge’s order last week setting Smith’s bond. Prosecutors challenged it in part by saying the former cop could pose a risk to witnesses after threatening during a recorded meeting to “shoot” someone if that person was a “rat.”