By Tim O’Meilia
A former Lantana police officer was sentenced to three years in prison Jan. 10 after pleading guilty to stealing cash from Hispanic men during traffic stops.
Mark Ott, 36, pleaded guilty to three counts of targeting Hispanic men during the robberies and was ordered to pay $1,780 in restitution to the victims by Judge Stephen Rapp in Palm Beach County Circuit Court.
Ott was arrested in May as a result of a joint undercover sting operation by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, the State Attorney’s Office and the FBI.
Ott admitted that while he was on duty between February and May he stopped several Hispanic men as they left check cashing stores, asked for their identification and confiscated between $35 and $400 from each.
After Ott stopped an FBI agent and his son, the police agencies ran a sting operation. He was arrested after he pulled over an undercover Sheriff’s deputy and an FBI agent, took $400 in photocopied bills but kept $150 before letting the men go. The money was found stuffed in Ott’s tactical vest.
Ott resigned after his arrest. He was a Lantana officer for five years and worked as a police dispatcher before that.