Innocent People Arrested By Order Of Florida Police Chief

MIAMI, FL — The former chief of the Biscayne Park Police Department pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to charges that he ordered his officers to arrest three innocent people for unsolved burglaries. Former Chief Raimundo Atesiano pleaded guilty to conspiring with his subordinate officers to violate individual civil rights by making false arrests. Prosecutors said that the chief wanted to look more successful in fighting crime.

“Atesiano admitted that on one occasion he instructed an officer to falsely arrest and charge an individual for several vehicle burglaries based upon what Atesiano knew were false confessions,” federal prosecutors explained. “According to the documents, Atesiano intentionally encouraged officers to arrest individuals without a legal basis in order to have arrests effectuated for all reported burglaries, which created a fictitious 100 percent clearance rate for that category of crime.”

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The guilty plea was announced by U.S. Attorney Benjamin G. Greenberg of Miami; Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division; Special Agent in Charge Robert F. Lasky of the FBI Miami Field Office; Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle and Special Agent in Charge Troy Walker of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

“The vast majority of law enforcement officers across the nation serve our communities with honor and integrity,” said Greenberg. “We will not allow the minority of officers who cast aside their oaths to tarnish the reputation of those who protect us all. Instead, as evidenced today with former Chief Raimundo Atesiano’s guilty plea, we will continue to hold them accountable in federal court for criminal acts that threaten our constitutional guarantees.”

Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore said that the former chief violated a “fundamental” right in the U.S. Constitution. “As the chief of police, defendant Atesiano was trusted by his community to lead their police officers by example; he has failed his community and the officers of Biscayne Park.”

Atesiano will be sentenced on Nov. 27. Three of his former officers pleaded guilty to related charges and are awaiting sentencing. Guillermo Ravelo is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 4. Charlie Dayoub and Raul Fernandez are scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 16.

Fernandez Rundle called the actions of the law enforcement officers a “deliberate injustice” to intentionally charge and arrest the innocent.

“Police Chief Raimundo Atesiano’s actions were intended to give his community a false sense of security and were a betrayal of his oath to protect the residents of Biscayne Park and all the people of Miami-Dade County,” Fernandez Rundle said.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Harry C. Wallace, Jr.. U.S. Department of Justice Trial Attorney Donald W. Tunnage and Assistant State Attorney Trent Reichling.

Photo by Paul Scicchitano

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