Greece, NY Police department, Plagued with Misconduct and Corruption, Back in Spotlight After officer Sam Ross is Arrested on Charges of Unlawful Dealing with a Minor

By Davy V.

A 7 year veteran Greece, NY Police officer has been arrested and charged with 3 counts of unlawfully dealing with a minor.

31 year old Sam Ross, a K-9 officer with the GPD turned himself in to the Monroe County Sheriff’s office on Friday.

According to Greece Police Chief Todd Baxter, Ross is accused of giving alcohol to an 18-year-old male on three separate occasions.

“He was suspended by myself. He did turn over his weapons and identification and things like that. He is in a unique situation being a k-9 handler and the dog is a unique tool that belongs to the police department. We did leave the dog in his possession with the order it must stay on the premise, at his house. Obviously it wont be used for a K-9 function,” said Baxter.

Chief Baxter went on to say, “The Greece police of all departments relies on trust, trust in the community. We of all places are trying to build back that trust. A mistake made like this, or potential mistake, just for the integrity of the police department, got to make sure we do it right and by the book. And that’s how we do it. We don’t the i’s and cross the t’s. We launched and internal investigation, we consulted with the district attorney and they agreed there is potential criminality here, so we handed it over to a whole other agency so it is as transparent as possible.”

According to Baxter, Ross and the 18-year-old male met on social media and began hanging out. He would not say what their relationship was, or where the alleged acts of Ross giving the teen alcohol took place, other than to say it happened in the Town of Irondequoit, NY.

Many questions remain unanswered, including what, if any other inappropriate conduct occurred between Greece Police officer Sam Ross, as well as why would a police officer provide alcohol to minor, 13 years younger than himself.

The Greece, NY Police department has a long history of misconduct and corruption.

In 2008 former Rochester, NY Police officer and Greece Police Sgt. Nick Joseph was off duty, drinking and doing cocaine at Spenders bar on Lyell Ave. in Rochester, NY when he got behind the wheel of his brother David Joseph’s (Joseph is a Sgt. with the Rochester, NY Police department) Ford Fusion and while racing on interstate 390 North, doing in excess of 80 miles per hour, rear ended a stalled vehicle which was parked on the shoulder.

In that vehicle was Alexis Sharpe, a young pregnant mother.

The impact ruptured Sharpe’s placenta and she had to undergo emergency surgery, forcing her to deliver her daughter, Azaria, 14 weeks prematurely.

Azaria spent 93 days in the hospital and suffers ongoing medical problems.

Joseph fled under the cover of darkness immediately after crashing into Sharpe’s vehicle.

The incident led to Greece, NY Police Sgt. Nick Joseph being convicted of aggravated vehicular assault, two counts of second-degree assault, leaving the scene of a personal injury accident, and first-degree perjury; as well as two misdemeanors: driving while ability impaired and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Key evidence in Joseph’s trial included surveillance video from the bar which showed Joseph downing drink after drink, as well as cocaine residue on the airbag of the Ford Fusion.

Nick Joseph was sentenced 3 to 7 years in New York State prison.

The investigation into Joseph’s incident led to former Greece Police Chief Merritt Rahn also being charged with several felonies in connection with Joseph’s hit and run, including guilty of tampering with public records, hindering a prosecution, falsifying business records, falsely reporting an incident, and two counts of official misconduct in an attempt to cover up the Joseph incident. He was also found guilty of offering a false instrument for filing in the case of former Greece Police officer Gary Pignato’s background check.

In Rahn’s 2009 trial, cell phone records showed several calls made between Joseph and Rahn after Joseph’s hit and run.

It is believed that Rahn tried to cover-up for Joseph, including telling Joseph not to immediately go to the hospital for a cut on his forehead which he suffered in the accident, so as to avoid blood tests which would have shown alcohol and cocaine.

Former Greece, NY Police Chief Merritt Rahn was convicted and sentenced 1 2/3 to 5 years in New York State prison.

Also in 2009, Greece Police officer Gary Pignato, also a former Rochester, NY Police officer, who was fired from the RPD, was charged with bribery and coercion, stemming from several traffic stops of women, whom he would try to force into having sex with him in exchange for him letting them off traffic tickets and crimes.

In one case, Pignato responded to a domestic disturbance call where the boyfriend of a young woman had called police.

The woman had been drinking alcohol.

Once Pignato learned the woman was on probation, he bribed the woman by telling her that if she did not have sex with him he would arrest her and she would be in violation of her probation.

Pignato would routinely follow women to their homes and stalk them.

At his sentencing, Pignato told the Judge “I literally placed my life on the line” as an officer and that it’s “degrading and demoralizing to be in jail.”

Pignato was sentenced 2 to 6 years in New York State Prison.

Nick Joseph, Merritt Rahn and Gary Pignato all remain incarcerated.

Greece, NY Police officer Sam Ross has been suspended with pay.

Perhaps Rochester-area resident Mark Taylor, a retired New York State Department of Corrections officer who follows my work, says it best: “They (Greece Police department) never cleansed the police force of corruption and never will. They removed the obvious tumors but there is still those that are so deeply entrenched, they never will be removed. This is pretty much how all police forces are. You might have a ratio of 70 percent good cops and 30 percent bad, but if the good ones don’t clean up the bad ones, it makes them all bad. There is no reward for a good cop to snitch out a bad cop as it is frowned upon when one crosses that blue line. Trust me, I know.”

 


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Davy V.

Davy V. is a Cuban-American Filmmaker, Video Producer, Photographer and Freelance Writer, best known for using the power of video and film to expose Police Brutality, Corruption and Misconduct. The son of the late Mario Vara, a community activist who for years fought against Police Brutality and Misconduct in Rochester, New York, Davy V. got his start in Television and Video by tagging along and working camera for his father's cable access television show, "La Voz Del Pueblo" (The Voice of The People). Davy V. later went on to produce and host "KEEP IT ON THE REEL", a cable access TV show with a mix of Hip Hop as well as issues affecting African-Americans and Latinos in Rochester, NY, such as Police Brutality and Misconduct. Some guests on the show included Treach, KayGee and Vinnie of Naughty by Nature, Method Man, Funkdoobiest, Da Youngstas, and the Rottin' Razkals. Davy V. won the U.S. ACM Video Festival Award for his Documentary, "R.P.D. EXPOSED!" about the Rochester, New York Police Department and their long history of misconduct, corruption and unnecessary killings of unarmed innocent citizens. "R.P.D. EXPOSED!" and Davy V.'s follow up, "R.P.D.: Badges of DISHONOR, CORRUPTION and MURDER!" were both screened at the National Hip Hop Political Convention at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. Davy V.'s work has been featured in publications such as THE SOURCE Hip Hop Magazine, URBAN AMERICA Magazine, The Ave. Magazine, Insider Magazine, La Voz Newspaper, Minority Reporter Newspaper, CNY LATINO Newspaper, DOWN Magazine, as well as on television news stations, and programs such as CNN and Inside Edition. In addition to his freelance writing, Davy V. also writes a monthly Op/Ed Column for LA VOZ Magazine and Minority Reporter Newspaper. In June 2012, Davy V. joined Cop Block as a regular contributor.