FORMER MIAMI BEACH POLICE OFFICER AND ACCOMPLICE CHARGED IN CONNECTION WITH TAKING A HOSTAGE TO EXTORT MONEY
Jeffrey H. Sloman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Raymond Martinez, Acting Chief, Miami Beach Police Department, announced the March 18, 2010 arrest of Richard Anastasi, 47, and Francisco Arias, 42. A criminal complaint was filed today, charging them with taking a hostage for the purpose of obtaining a ransom, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1203. If convicted of this charge, each defendant faces a maximum statutory sentence of life imprisonment.
According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, Richard Anastasi, a former Miami Beach police officer, and Francisco Arias, abducted the victim and threatened to harm him if he did not pay them $100,000. In post-arrest statements, the defendants claimed that Anastasi had been the victim of identity theft and credit card fraud, and that they were trying to recoup money that had been stolen from Anastasi.
The complaint alleges that between March 11, 2010 and March 15, 2010, the defendants repeatedly abducted and threatened to hurt and/or kill the victim. On March 11, Anastasi and Arias confronted the victim for the first time and forced the victim into a vehicle being driven by Anastasi. Once the victim was in the vehicle, the defendants began punching the victim. While in the vehicle, Anastasi gave Arias a knife, and instructed Arias to cut off the victim’s testicles. Later, defendant Arias drove the victim in a black suburban to a residence on S.W. 198th Street in Miami. At this location, Arias retrieved a semi-automatic rifle with a laser sight from the black suburban, and simulated shooting the victim at least two times, once while the victim was forced down to his knees. After the victim assured the defendants that he could obtain money for them, the defendant Arias drove the victim to a Western Union to retrieve a wire transfer then back to his apartment and released him, under instructions to meet the defendants the following day.
According to the complaint, on Monday, March 15, 2010, defendants Anastasi and Arias, impersonating police officers, arrived at the victim’s apartment. When they found the victim, the defendants struck him, defendant Arias twice choking the victim into unconsciousness. Thereafter, the defendants ordered the victim into a black Suburban. Once in the truck, defendant Arias took out a pair of pliers, and threatened to pull out the victim’s teeth, one at a time. Arias also tasered the victim. The defendants again returned the victim to his home so that he could obtain money for them.
On March 16, 2010, law enforcement was notified. Thereafter, law enforcement recorded telephone calls between the victim and the defendants, in which the victim negotiated additional time to produce the money the defendants were demanding. The FBI arrested Anastasi and Arias on March 18, 2010 on the way to the designated meeting time and place, where the victim was to provide the additional funds.
Mr. Sloman commended the investigative efforts of the Miami Beach Police Department and the FBI’s Violent Crime Task Force, which includes agents and officers from the U.S. Secret Service, Miami-Dade Police Department, Miami Police Department, Broward Sheriff’s Office, and Doral Police Department. Mr. Sloman also thanked the Homestead Police Department and the City of Miami Police Department for their assistance. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael E. Gilfarb.
A Complaint is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.