Santa Clara: Cop charged with possessing stolen car parts, running chop shop
By Jason Green, firstname.lastname@example.org
SAN JOSE -- A veteran police officer has been charged with running a chop shop and possessing stolen car parts worth more than $75,000, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.
Tyson Green, 41, a Los Gatos resident and 14-year veteran of the Santa Clara Police Department, was arrested Friday.
Green is charged with one count of owning or operating a chop shop and two counts of buying or receiving stolen property in excess of $950, said deputy district attorney Michael Vidmar.
If convicted, Green faces a maximum of five years in prison, according to prosecutors.
"Auto thefts are plaguing our area, directly affecting the owners and indirectly affecting insurance rates for everyone in the state," Vidmar said in a statement. "It is deeply disappointing that a member of law enforcement chose to participate in this crime."
The alleged crime was exposed when a local man tried to buy a Chevrolet Camaro engine from a seller on Craigslist. He suspected the engines were stolen and called police, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors said an investigation by the Santa Clara County Regional Auto Theft Task Force revealed Green was using a San Jose garage to store four engines, each worth more than $15,000, as well as a dozen car computers. The parts came from cars that had been stolen over the past two years in the greater Bay Area, according to prosecutors.
The engines were from modern Camaros, including the high-performance ZL1, said Vidmar, adding that the vehicle identification numbers on them had been partially destroyed.
Green is the third Santa Clara cop to find himself in legal trouble in the past year. His arrest comes while a jury is deliberating whether to convict Sgt. Thomas Leipelt of one misdemeanor count of indecent exposure. And Kiet Nguyen, a 25-year veteran, was charged with shoplifting after he allegedly took a smart watch from a Target store in May.
Green was put on paid administrative leave when the police department learned he was under criminal investigation, Santa Clara police Chief Michael Sellers said in a statement.
"I was sad to learn that one of my officers, Tyson Green, a 14-year veteran, was arrested," Sellers said. "This is not a true reflection of the hardworking men and women of this department that serve and protect our community."