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Aug. 27, 2013 -- Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore announced that Joseph Russo (DOB 12/26/65) of 2 Roosevelt Square North, Mount Vernon, New York was arraigned today on a 37-count indictment charging him with:
The defendant, a Mount Vernon police officer, submitted overtime reports, MV-5s and Westchester County Traffic Safety Board STEP forms to the Mount Vernon Police Department indicating that he had worked when in fact he had not. In addition, the defendant indicated that he had written summonses during the overtime shifts, when in fact he had not.
The officer reported that on these days he had worked overtime from either 4:30 or 5:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. under the STEP program. As a result, the defendant received approximately $500 in overtime payments to which he was not entitled.
The Selective Traffic Safety Enforcement (STEP) Program is a County traffic safety program that provides funds to county and local police departments to actively participate in state-sponsored speeding and aggressive driving campaigns. All local and county police agencies participate in this program and receive funds.
An investigation by Mount Vernon Police Internal Affairs Unit resulted in the officer’s suspension and subsequent arrest.
“The credibility of a police officer’s testimony in criminal prosecutions is paramount. By using his position to game the system and falsely put in for overtime that he did not earn, this officer betrayed the public’s trust. While this individual will be held accountable, this conduct serves only to erode the public’s confidence in our government institutions,” said District Attorney Janet DiFiore.
The defendant was arraigned in Westchester County Court and was released on his own recognizance.
The defendant’s next court date is Sept. 24, 2013.
He faces a maximum sentence of four years in state prison on each of the top counts.
Assistant District Attorney Berit Huseby of the Public Integrity Bureau is prosecuting the case.
In compliance with Disciplinary Rule 7-107A of the Code of Professional Responsibility, you are advised that a charge is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.