By Tim O’Meilia
A Lantana police officer was arrested and charged with three counts of robbery after he allegedly pulled over Hispanic men and stole their money after they left check-cashing stores.
Officer Mark Ott, 35, faces a maximum of 90 years in prison for three counts of robbery with prejudice for targeting Hispanic men between February and May. Ott, an officer for four years, was released on $25,000 bail. He is on administrative leave without pay.
According to the probable cause affidavit, Ott made multiple stops of Hispanic men, searched them and returned some of their money. He took $35 to $400 at each stop.
The arrest came after an undercover sting operation resulting from a February incident when he stopped an FBI agent and his son. That led to an investigation involving the FBI, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and the State Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit task force.
Ott was arrested May 19 after he pulled over an under-cover Sheriff’s deputy and an FBI agent, took $400 in photocopied bills, but kept $150 before letting the men go. The money was later found stuffed in Ott’s tactical vest, according to the affidavit.