LANTANA, Fla. --
A Lantana police officer is accused of robbing Hispanic men during traffic stops.
Officer Mark Ott, 35, was arrested Thursday on three counts of robbery.
According to the state attorney's office in Palm Beach County, Ott targeted Hispanic men, pulling them over, searching them and stealing their money.
They said Ott was stopping the men as they left check cashing stores, taking their wallets and then returning them, minus some of the cash they'd just gotten.
And they said Ott was robbing the men on the job, in uniform and driving his patrol car.
According to the probable cause document, a landscaper tipped off the FBI in March that some of his employees kept complaining about Ott. The FBI and the state attorneys office eventually conducted a sting, posing as Hispanics driving a pickup, with a handmade license plate.
According to prosecutors, Ott stopped the undercover officers, took their cash, and then returned it, missing $150.00. Agents had photocopied the money's serial numbers, and say when they arrested Ott, they found matching serial numbers on cash in his police vest.
Investigative reporter Terri Parker obtained Ott's personnel file which revealed although he has several commendations, he also has a stack of reprimands and internal affairs investigations.
In 2007, Ott was reprimanded when a prisoner he brought into the station set fire to toilet paper in his cell after Ott failed to search him and confiscate his lighter, causing "negative public and media exposure," according to his file.
In 2008, Ott was disciplined when on more than one occasion he "reported to work while under the influence of alcoholic beverages" and was put on 12 months probation.
Before becoming a police officer, Ott was a dispatcher for the town, and had several write-ups then. In 1998 he was "given a final chance" after leaving work early and falsifying his time card.
In 2004, Ot was ordered to attend anger management classes. Hs file doesn't say why but does say this: "although the state declined to prosecute (it)in no way alters the fact that you committed this offense."
A few months later Ott resigned as dispatcher to attend the police academy.
Ott has bonded out of the Palm Beach County Jail.
FBI Arrests Lantana Police Officer
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