New York Police Department (NYPD) officers Robert Hassett and Heather Busch were arrested along with retired NYPD officer Robert Smith for accepting bribes and other crimes. The trio accepted payments from a tow truck company in exchange for using their services to tow wrecked vehicles and sold victims' information to third parties as potential sales leads. They are charged in a 9 count federal indictment (see PDF above) with a variety of offenses including use of interstate facilities to commit bribery and conspiracy to violate the Travel Act. Former officer Robert Smith is also charged with attempted heroin distribution and possessing a firearm while committing a drug trafficking offense.
The tow truck scheme began in 2016. When officers need a tow truck to remove damaged vehicles from the scene of an accident they are supposed to use the department's Directed Accident Response Program (DARP) which randomly selects a licensed towing company to avoid favoring any specific company. The trio elected instead to call a specific company that had bribed them rather than use DARP. They also sold personal information about accident victims to a physical therapy business and personal injury lawyers for use with their sales efforts.
Robert Smith began distributing heroin in July of 2020. Smith was already a retired officer at the time. The government says that he met with a man in Brooklyn, picked up a bag of heroin, and delivered it to someone in Queens in exchange for $1,200. Smith retired in March of 2020 after being exposed as a racist in text messages.
According to public records, Robert J. Smith is a 44 year old resident of Plainview, New York. He was convicted of first degree forgery in Dekalb County, Georgia in 1999 (case number 99CR2578). The disposition of the case is listed as "First Offender Act - Pending" which we believe explains how he was able to become a NYPD officer. Under Georgia's First Offender Act a defendant's conviction is sealed when their sentence is complete (https://www.gjp.org/faqs/understand-the-first-offender-act/). This information was obtained from an online background check service when searching for 44 year old men named Robert Smith in Plainview. The USAO press release listed his age as 44 and his city of residence as Plainview, so although Robert Smith is a common name we think we have the right person. Smith is a registered Republican.
According to public records, Robert T Hassett is a 36 year old resident of Holbrook, New York. The USAO press release lists his residence as being in Farmingville, but we think that is outdated. Our background check service lists him as having a Farmingville residence as recently as last year, but also lists him as owning a home in Holbrook since last year. He is a registered Republican with no prior criminal record.
According to public records, Heather Busch is a 34 year old resident of Massapequa, New York. Her voter registration lists her affiliation as BLK. She has no prior criminal record.