MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced the arrest of a Hempstead Village Police Officer for allegedly stealing a portable encrypted police radio from the Hempstead Village Police Department.
Robert Van Wyen, 32, of Islip, surrendered this morning to the Nassau County Police Department District Attorney Squad and was arraigned today before Judge Meryl Berkowitz. He is charged with:
- Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (a D felony)
- Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree (a D felony)
- Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree (an E felony)
- Official Misconduct (an A misdemeanor)
- Unauthorized Use of a Computer (an A misdemeanor)
Bail was set at $20,000 bond or $20,000 cash and the defendant is due back in court on April 16. If convicted of the top count he faces up to 2-1/3 years to seven years in prison.
“Listening to confidential, scrambled police communications can give a valuable advantage to a private towing company, or even imperil the safety of law enforcement,” DA Singas said. “This police officer’s alleged attempt steal a police radio and sell it for thousands in cash is a betrayal of his oath as an officer, a crime against the taxpayers, and our prosecutors will hold him accountable.”
DA Singas said that in January 2017 the NCDA received a tip that a Hempstead Village police officer had stolen a portable police radio from the Hempstead Village Police Department.
After an extensive investigation, it is alleged that Van Wyen, a Hempstead Village police officer, stole the Motorola radio and intended to resell it for $10,000 to a towing company.
Police radios in Nassau County are encrypted on proprietary software. The possession of an encrypted radio would bestow a business advantage on a tow-truck operator that could learn of automobile collisions and accidents before the competition. A towing company can earn approximately $2,500 per tow, a price that is inclusive of the work the company could expect to perform on the car following the tow.
The investigation is ongoing.
Senior Investigative Counsels Mary Ruddy and Donald Levin of DA Singas’ Organized Crime and Rackets Bureau are prosecuting this case. The defendant is represented by Anthony LaPinta, Esq.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.