'Unabashedly Racist' NYPD Cop Arrested in Bribe Scheme Made 'Numerous References' to the KKK

An "unabashedly racist" retired New York police officer who made numerous references to the Ku Klux Klan has been charged with bribery and drug trafficking.

Robert Smith, 44, has been indicted along with current NYPD officers Heather Busch, 34, and Robert Hassett, 36, on five counts of using interstate facilities to commit bribery and two counts of conspiracy to violate the Travel Act after allegedly taking part in a towing company bribery scheme.

Smith, who is alleged to have orchestrated the crimes, is also charged with attempting to transport heroin and possessing a firearm.

According to prosecutors, Smith once referred to himself as "one of the most corrupt cops in the 105," referring to the 105th Precinct where he, Busch, and Hassett worked at the time.

Smith, who retired from the NYPD in March 2020, also described himself as a "perp that got away" in a text message to another officer and was recorded stating that if he wasn't in the police he would have been "locked up so many times."

Following his retirement, Smith also boasted that he would threaten and terrorize Black people by brandishing his firearm in front of them.

"Bro I point my gun out the window now at [n-word] and watch their reaction and drive way. Hilarious," Smith wrote in one text.

Smith and another individual also discussed how Smith, as an NYPD officer, had engaged in robberies and shakedowns of individuals and businesses for bribe payments. In the messages, Smith boasted "I robbed everyone" during these "shakes."

After he was charged, a detention memo urged Smith be detained pending trial because he constitutes a "clear danger to the community," noting his racism and interest in the KKK.

"Smith's unabashedly racist and hate-filled language in his communications
included regular references to Black individuals as [n-word] and numerous references to the Ku Klux Klan, including one—just after his retirement—in which he wrote, 'Now the real [S]mith will shine. I even shaved my head. Klan," the memo states.

According to prosecutors, all three officers allegedly took thousands of dollars in bribes while directing vehicles damaged in accidents to a single tow-trucking and automobile repair business. NYPD officers are required to use a computer system that randomly selects a licensed tow-truck business to repair damaged cars, which the officers allegedly bypassed.

Smith and Hassett are also accused of obtaining the names and information of recent automobile accident victims from NYPD databases and providing that information to what turned out to be an undercover officer in exchange for cash.

Smith and Hassett believed the individual would sell that information to physical therapy businesses and personal injury attorneys.

As he was due to retire, Smith allegedly offered to work security for a drug distribution network. In June 2020, Smith met with two individuals, stating he could carry a firearm and his retired NYPD identification while transporting the drugs.

The next month, Smith accepted a bag containing what he understood to be a kilogram of heroin and took it to a location in Queens. Smith received $1,200 in cash for his participation in the scheme.

If convicted, Smith faces up to life imprisonment for the drug trafficking charge, and up to five years' imprisonment on each bribery count. He also faces a mandatory consecutive sentence of five years to life imprisonment on the firearm charge.

Hassett and Busch face up to five years' imprisonment on each bribery count, and up to five years' imprisonment on counts of conspiracy to violate the Travel Act.

"Behavior like the type alleged today is a disgrace. It erodes public trust in law enforcement and tarnishes the reputations of the many thousands of officers who honorably serve our communities on a daily basis," FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney said in a statement.

"The FBI and NYPD stand together on this – Our shared oath is to uphold the law and protect the public. Nobody is above the law, and we will not tolerate illegal behavior, especially among the ranks of sworn law enforcement officers."

NYPD Commissioner Dermot F. Shea said: "There is zero tolerance in the NYPD for corruption of any kind. Wherever it is alleged, our NYPD investigators, with our partners in the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of New York, work tirelessly to ensure it is punished to the fullest extent of the law."

(File photo) An NYPD officer at the Church of St. Rosalie, February 20, 2019 in Hampton Bays, New York. A retired New York police officer who made "numerous" references to the KKKK has been charged with bribery and drug trafficking. Drew Angerer/Getty Images