Former Biscayne Park Police Chief Sentenced for Conspiracy to Deprive Persons of Civil Rights by Ordering Officers to Make False Arrests
U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan for the Southern District of Florida, Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, Katherine Fernandez Rundle, Miami-Dade State Attorney, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Troy Walker, Special Agent in Charge, Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), today announced that former Biscayne Park Police Chief Raimundo Atesiano was sentenced to 36 months incarceration for conspiracy to deprive individuals of their civil rights.
Former Chief Atesiano previously pleaded guilty to acting under color of law as chief of police when on three separate occasions he ordered former officers Guillermo Ravelo, Charlie Dayoub and Raul Fernandez to falsely arrest and charge individuals with unsolved burglaries. According to court filings, Chief Atesiano intentionally encouraged those officers to arrest individuals without a legal basis in order to have arrests effectuated for all reported burglaries. This created a fictitious 100% clearance rate for that category of crime.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to holding those individuals accountable who abuse their positions of power to strip others of their civil rights,” stated U.S. Attorney Fajardo Orshan. “Today, former Police Chief Raimundo Atesiano stood before the court to answer for his crimes and the federal prison sentence that was imposed is one step toward justice for the victims and our South Florida community.”
“For his own professional benefit, Chief Atesiano corruptly and disgracefully abused his authority and the power of his office to create fictitious clearance statistics by falsely arresting individuals,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband. “This kind of abuse of power has no place in our nation and is contrary to American ideals, the rule of law, and fundamental fairness. The Department will continue to hold accountable officers who violate individual rights and betray the communities that they have been entrusted to serve and protect.”
“Every day, thousands of dedicated, able and honorable law enforcement officers take to the streets to protect communities throughout South Florida,” said George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami. “It is on their behalf that the FBI seeks to root out police officers, and other government officials, who violate the civil rights of our citizens.”
“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,” said State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. “Miami-Dade’s residents deserve honesty and integrity, qualities that Raimundo Atesiano deliberately failed to deliver.”
“Atesiano’s self-serving actions are contrary to the law enforcement values that officers are sworn to uphold and deplorable to the citizens of Biscayne Park and the men and women in law enforcement who put their lives in harm’s way to keep us safe,” said FDLE Miami Special Agent in Charge Troy Walker.
According to previous court filings, at Chief Atesiano’s direction, Ravelo falsely arrested a victim identified as “C.D.” and another victim identified as “E.B.” C.D. was charged with two residential burglaries, and E.B. was charged with five vehicle burglaries, both without probable cause. In court filings related to his guilty plea, Atesiano admitted that he instructed Ravelo to falsely arrest and charge E.B for five vehicle burglaries based upon what Atesiano knew were false confessions.
In a prior hearing, it was disclosed that Chief Atesiano also instructed former officers Dayoub and Fernandez to unlawfully arrest and falsely charge “T.D.,” a juvenile previously known to Chief Atesiano and Dayoub. Dayoub and Fernandez complied with Chief Atesiano’s instructions and falsely arrested T.D. Fernandez wrote narratives containing fabricated information in support of the four arrest affidavits that falsely claimed an investigation revealed that T.D. had committed the four burglaries. Dayoub signed and attested that the contents of the affidavits were true even though he, like Chief Atesiano and Fernandez, knew that no evidence existed to substantiate the arrest. T.D. was subsequently arrested for the four burglaries.
Former officers Charlie Dayoub and Raul Fernandez were each sentenced to 12 months in prison for their role in falsely arresting T.D., a 16-year old juvenile. Former officer Guillermo Ravelo was sentenced to 27 months incarceration for his role in conspiring to deprive persons of civil rights and, in a separate incident, depriving a motorist of civil rights under color law by using excessive force.
This case was investigated by the FBI, including the FBI Miami Area Corruption Task Force, and FDLE, and assisted by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Harry C. Wallace, Jr., Department of Justice Trial Attorney Donald W. Tunnage, and Assistant State Attorney Trent Reichling.