FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, January 27, 2012
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MPD Officer Sentenced to 180 Days in Jail
For Attempted Receiving Stolen Property
– He Was On Duty When He Purchased Goods Believed To Be Stolen -
WASHINGTON - Dioni Fernandez, 35, a Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officer, was sentenced today to 180 days in jail on a charge of attempted receiving stolen property, announced U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr., MPD Chief Cathy L. Lanier, and James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.
The Honorable Harold L. Cushenberry, Jr. found Fernandez, an eight-year MPD veteran who was assigned to the Fourth Police District, guilty of the charge in December 2011, following a four-day trial in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. In addition to imposing the maximum jail term, Judge Cushenberry ordered the defendant to pay a $1,000 fine.
At today’s sentencing, Judge Cushenberry stated that Officer Fernandez’s conduct violated his solemn oath, tarnished the badge and betrayed the public trust. Judge Cushenberry said Officer Fernandez’s testimony at trial, in which he claimed not to have realized the property was stolen, was not credible and demonstrated that the defendant has an inability to appreciate the wrongfulness of the conduct he engaged in while on duty.
According to the government’s evidence at trial, on February 23, 2011, Fernandez was driving a police vehicle with another officer while he was on duty. Fernandez arranged to pick up a cooperating witness, who then left a brand new iPad in the back seat of the car. The cooperating witness subsequently went to a local business, where one of Fernandez’s relatives paid him $150 in cash for the iPad.
That same day, the cooperating witness made two calls to Fernandez. In both calls, the cooperating witness asked Fernandez not to tell the other MPD officer in the car that the iPad was stolen. Fernandez agreed and ordered two additional iPads, stating his intent to resell them.
On March 1, 2011, the cooperating witness planned to sell another iPad to Fernandez and went to a local restaurant at Fernandez’s direction. Fernandez had called an employee of the restaurant earlier that day and instructed the employee to give the cooperating witness $300 for two iPads. The cooperating witness gave the employee one iPad in exchange for $150 in cash.
Later that same day, the cooperating witness called Fernandez to explain that he needed time to acquire the additional iPad Fernandez requested. In the call, the cooperating witness assured Fernandez that his cohorts were in Virginia stealing, and that an iPad could be available as early as the next day.
On March 8, 2011, members of the FBI and MPD executed a search warrant at Fernandez’s apartment. During the execution of the search warrant, one of the iPads purchased by Fernandez from the cooperating witness was recovered in Fernandez’s bedroom.
Two other MPD officers, Silvestre Bonilla, 31, and Guillermo Ortiz, 41, who were arrested on the same date as Fernandez, previously pled guilty to attempted receiving stolen property. Bonilla was sentenced earlier this month to a jail term totaling 90 days. Ortiz was ordered in May 2011 to pay a $2,000 fine and placed on two years of supervised probation with the condition that he complete 200 hours of community service. Both have resigned from the department.
In announcing today’s sentence, U.S. Attorney Machen, Chief Lanier and Assistant Director McJunkin commended the work of MPD’s Internal Affairs and Narcotics Special Investigation Divisions and the FBI’s Washington Field Office, which investigated the case. They also thanked the FBI’s Spanish Language Services for its assistance.
In addition, U.S. Attorney Machen, Chief Lanier and Assistant Director McJunkin commended the efforts of the staff of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialist Tasha Harris, Legal Assistants Shanna Hays and Krishawn Graham, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bridget Fitzpatrick, Ellen Chubin Epstein and John Crabb for their work prosecuting the corruption investigation.