Miami, Florida - Former Village of Biscayne Park Chief of Police, Raimundo Atesiano, pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiring with subordinate officers to violate individuals’ civil rights by making false arrests, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney Benjamin G. Greenberg for the Southern District of Florida, Robert F. Lasky, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami Field Office, Katherine Fernandez Rundle, Miami-Dade State Attorney, and Troy Walker, Special Agent in Charge, Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).
According to documents filed in connection with the plea entered Friday, Atesiano was acting under color of law as chief of police when on three separate occasions he ordered officers under his command to falsely arrest and charge individuals with unsolved burglaries. In court filings related to the plea, 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. 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% clearance rate for that category of crime.
Guillermo Ravelo, a former Biscayne Park Officer who is named in the superseding indictment, previously entered a guilty plea for his role in the conspiracy with Atesiano to violate individuals’ civil rights. Charlie Dayoub and Raul Fernandez, former Biscayne Park officers who also are named in the superseding indictment, previously entered guilty pleas for their roles in effecting false arrests.
The Court set the sentencing date for Atesiano on Nov. 27. Guillermo Ravelo is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 4, and Charlie Dayoub and Raul Fernandez are scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 16.
“The right to be free from false arrests is fundamental to our Constitution and system of justice,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore. “Law enforcement officers who abuse their authority and deny any individual this right will be held accountable. 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.”
“The vast majority of law enforcement officers across the nation serve our communities with honor and integrity,” stated U.S. Attorney Benjamin G. 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.”
“Law enforcement officers are entrusted with a great deal of responsibility and authority and therefore must be held to a high standard. Raimundo Atesiano failed to meet this standard by abusing his authority and breaking laws,” said Scott A. Rottman, Acting Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami. "Unfortunately, the actions of a very few dishonest officers, such as Atesiano and his co-conspirators, undercut the public’s trust and they must be rooted out. His actions do not represent the overwhelming majority law enforcement officers who are diligent, honorable professionals who are worthy of that trust."
“It is a deliberate injustice to intentionally charge and arrest an innocent man. 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,” commented State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. “I applaud the combined efforts of our law enforcement partnership to end this calculated abuse of power.”
“Law enforcement officers must be held to the highest moral standards and when that trust is broken, FDLE will work aggressively to investigate and find the truth ensuring all citizens are treated justly,” said FDLE Miami Special Agent in Charge Troy Walker.
The case was investigated by the FBI, the FBI Miami Area Corruption Task Force and the FDLE, with assistance from the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Harry C. Wallace, Jr., Trial Attorney D.W. Tunnage of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, and Assistant State Attorney Trent Reichling.