HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Top police officers in the Village of Hempstead were arrested today after prosecutors say they made tickets disappear in exchange for a promotion.
Hempstead Village Chief of Police Paul Johnson was one of four arrested in the latest crackdown on corruption, reports CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff.
The indictment alleges Johnson, when vying to become police chief, was asked by then-Village Trustee Perry Pettus to fix four traffic tickets as a favor to this local restaurateur.
A month later, Pettus allegedly returned the favor by voting to promote Johnson to chief.
Johnson’s defense attorney Ron Bekoff says it was a unanimous vote and well deserved.
“He took the test, finished number one for chief four years in a row, made it’s a cheap shot,” said Bekoff. “It’s incredible, I’m just bewildered.”
“Yet again, I’m very disturbed, very disappointed in the situation,” said Dennis Jones of the Hempstead village chamber of commerce. “Corruption in Hempstead seems to come out front page news every single week.”
Also arrested was Police Sgt. Joseph Sovino, also accused of making tickets disappear, and former trustee Petus.
Scandals have taken down six Hempstead cops in three years with charges ranging from official misconduct to tampering with public records.
In the most recent arrests, each of the accused faces two to seven years if convicted.