Twelfth Baltimore Police Officer Sentenced in Towing Extortion Scheme
Baltimore, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake sentenced Baltimore Police officer Samuel Ocasio, age 37, of Edgewood, Maryland today to 18 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for conspiring to commit and committing extortion under color of official right in connection with a scheme in which brothers Hernan Moreno and Edwin Mejia paid Ocasio and over 50 other officers to arrange for their car repair company, Majestic, rather than a city-authorized company, to tow vehicles from accident scenes and make repairs. Judge Blake also ordered Ocasio to pay restitution of $1,500 to the Baltimore Police Department.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein, Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III.
According to testimony during the six day trial, beginning in the spring 2008, Moreno and Mejia agreed with Ocasio that while acting in his capacity as a Baltimore Police Department (BPD) officer at accident scenes, Ocasio would contact Moreno and Mejia for towing and repair services for vehicles even though Majestic was not an authorized tow company for the City of Baltimore. In exchange, Mejia or Moreno would pay Ocasio $300 for each vehicle that arrived at Majestic.
Specifically, while on the scene of an accident, Ocasio would contact Moreno and provide him with the details of the accident. Ocasio would persuade accident victims to allow their cars to be towed or otherwise delivered to Majestic by telling the victims that Majestic could tow the car, provide repair services, help with the insurance claim, assist in getting a rental car and waive the ownerâ€™s deductible. In some cases the accident victimsâ€™ cars were towed even if the vehicle was not actually disabled. Later, Ocasio arranged to meet Moreno or Mejia to receive cash for steering the car owner to Majestic.
From January 2010 to January 2011, Moreno paid Ocasio $1,500 in cash for referring five cars to Majestic.
In addition, in January 2010 Ocasioâ€™s wife was involved in a car accident. Ocasio brought the car to Majestic for repair and additional damage was made to the car before Ocasioâ€™s car insurance company estimated the amount of damages. The insurance company paid $2,515.07 to repair the car. Moreno paid Ocasioâ€™s deductible and $300 for bringing his car to Majestic.
Hernan Alexis Moreno, age 32, of Rosedale, and Edwin Javier Mejia, age 28, of Middle River, previously pleaded guilty to the extortion conspiracy and are scheduled to be sentenced on September 5, 2012. Fourteen police officers have pleaded guilty to the extortion conspiracy in federal court and one officer pleaded guilty in state court.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the FBI and the Baltimore Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorneys Tonya N. Kelly and Kathleen O. Gavin, who prosecuted the case.