Raimundo Atesiano previously pleaded guilty to acting under color of law as chief of the Biscayne Park Police Department when on three separate occasions he ordered former officers Guillermo Ravelo, Charlie Dayoub and Raul Fernandez to falsely arrest and charge individuals with unsolved burglaries.
Atesiano intentionally encouraged the officers to charge innocent people without a legal basis in order to have arrests effectuated for all reported burglaries. This created a fictitious 100% clearance rate for that category of crime.
“When I took the job, I was not prepared,” Atesiano told U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore, who sentenced the 53-year-old former police chief to three years in prison. “I made some very, very bad decisions.”
Moore allowed Atesiano to remain free for two weeks before surrendering so he can care for his mother, who is dying of leukemia.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to holding those individuals accountable who abuse their positions of power to strip others of their civil rights,” said Ariana Fajardo Orshan, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. “Today, former Police Chief Raimundo Atesiano stood before the court to answer for his crimes and the federal prison sentence that was imposed is one step toward justice for the victims and our South Florida community.”
“For his own professional benefit, Chief Atesiano corruptly and disgracefully abused his authority and the power of his office to create fictitious clearance statistics by falsely arresting individuals,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband, of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This kind of abuse of power has no place in our nation and is contrary to American ideals, the rule of law, and fundamental fairness. The Department will continue to hold accountable officers who violate individual rights and betray the communities that they have been entrusted to serve and protect.”
“Every day, thousands of dedicated, able and honorable law enforcement officers take to the streets to protect communities throughout South Florida,” said George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami. “It is on their behalf that the FBI seeks to root out police officers, and other government officials, who violate the civil rights of our citizens.”
“Putting an arrest statistic above the rights of an innocent man instead of working to protect all our citizens undermines the safety goals of every Miami-Dade police department,” said Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. “Miami-Dade’s residents deserve honesty and integrity, qualities that Raimundo Atesiano deliberately failed to deliver.”
“Atesiano’s self-serving actions are contrary to the law enforcement values that officers are sworn to uphold and deplorable to the citizens of Biscayne Park and the men and women in law enforcement who put their lives in harm’s way to keep us safe,” said Troy Walker, Special Agent in Charge, Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).
According to previous court filings, at Atesiano’s direction, Ravelo falsely arrested a victim identified as “C.D.” and another victim identified as “E.B.” C.D. was charged with two residential burglaries, and E.B. was charged with five vehicle burglaries, both without probable cause.
Atesiano admitted that he instructed Ravelo to falsely arrest and charge E.B for five vehicle burglaries based upon what Atesiano knew were false confessions.
Atesiano also instructed former officers Dayoub and Fernandez to unlawfully arrest and falsely charge “T.D.,” a juvenile previously known to them and the officers falsely arrested the boy and wrote narratives containing fabricated information in support of four affidavits that falsely claimed an investigation revealed that T.D. had committed the four burglaries.
Dayoub signed and attested that the contents of the affidavits were true even though he, like Atesiano and Fernandez, knew that no evidence existed to substantiate the arrest. T.D. was subsequently arrested for the four burglaries.
Former officers Charlie Dayoub and Raul Fernandez were each sentenced to 12 months in prison for their role in falsely arresting T.D., a 16-year old juvenile. Former officer Guillermo Ravelo was sentenced to 27 months incarceration for his role in conspiring to deprive persons of civil rights and, in a separate incident, depriving a motorist of civil rights under color law by using excessive force.
This case was investigated by the FBI, including the FBI Miami Area Corruption Task Force, and FDLE, and assisted by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Harry C. Wallace, Jr., Department of Justice Trial Attorney Donald W. Tunnage, and Assistant State Attorney Trent Reichling.
Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or at http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.
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