MIAMI – A former Florida police chief will serve three years in prison for a department conspiracy to frame black people for crimes they did not commit.
LET previously reported the former police chief and two officers in Biscayne Park, faced federal charges of framing a 16-year-old in four unsolved burglaries. The motivation, prosecutors said, was keeping a perfect score on crime statistics.
Moreover, the feds said Police Chief Raimundo Atesiano and two officers acting under his authority lied about the arrests to wow the small village’s elected leaders with their crime-solving savvy.
Consequently, Tuesday was judgment day for the former top cop. A federal judge in Miami handed out the sentence against Atesiano, 53, who pleaded guilty to ordering officers to falsely arrest black people for unsolved burglaries, reported USA Today.
Three former officers have also pleaded guilty in the case, which centered around Atesiano’s efforts to improve the department’s crime-solving rate. The Miami-Dade County village has a population of 3,000.
The three arrests without legal basis encouraged by Atesiano created a 100-percent clearance rate for residential and vehicle burglaries.
“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,” State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a press release.
“Miami-Dade’s residents deserve honesty and integrity, qualities that Raimundo Atesiano deliberately failed to deliver.”
Atesiano faced a maximum 10-year sentence for conspiracy to deprive individuals of their civil rights. His lawyer said the victims were not randomly selected but were known to police as having criminal pasts—as if that somehow mitigated his guilt.
Two ex-officers, Charlie Dayoub and Raul Fernandez, were each sentenced to a year in prison for falsely arresting a 16-year old juvenile for four burglaries, according to the report. The third, Guillermo Ravelo, will serve 27 months for two separate incidents: falsely arresting one individual with two residential burglaries and another with five vehicle robberies, both without probable cause.
The police corruption case against Atesiano, Dayoub, and Fernandez took five years to make. It developed through the collaborative efforts of the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office and U.S. Attorney’s Office. Moreover, the indictments were filed just before the statute of limitations expired.
Krishan Manners, Biscayne Park’s recently hired village manager, condemned the misconduct of the former police chief and officers at the time of indictment.
“That’s not the way things are done in Biscayne Park,” said Manners, adding that the village cooperated fully with the FBI-led investigation. “This was five years ago. We have a different manager and a different police chief.”
During his sentencing, the former chief claimed he was unprepared for his responsibilities.
“When I took the job, I was not prepared,” Atesiano told a federal judge on Tuesday, the Miami Herald reported. “I made some very, very bad decisions.”
That would be a true statement! And now he gets to pay for his crime while others who wear a badge will be saddled with the mess of mistrust left in his wake.