Three Former Biscayne Park Patrol Officers Sentenced for Deprivation of Civil Rights by Intentionally Making False Arrests
U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan for the Southern District of Florida, Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, Katherine Fernandez Rundle, Miami-Dade State Attorney, Robert F. Lasky, 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 Officer Guillermo Ravelo was sentenced to 27 months incarceration for conspiracy to deprive a person of his civil rights and deprivation of civil rights under color of law.
“Officers who use excessive force and make false arrests maliciously cause harm to their victims and scourge our justice system,” said U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan. “With great power, comes great responsibility. Through aggressive federal prosecutions, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida will continue to guard the invaluable civil rights of every member of our community and hold those accountable who violate our constitutional protections.”
“These officers conspired to falsely arrest individuals in the name of providing deceptive clearance statistics for the benefit of Chief Atesiano,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore. “Chief Atesiano and these officers abused their authority and the Department will continue to ensure officers such as these are held accountable.”
“These three police officers from Biscayne Park disgraced themselves and damaged the public’s trust in law enforcement. Their actions are inexcusable and are not representative of the law enforcement professionals who serve us selflessly,” said Robert F. Lasky, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami. “The citizens of South Florida can take comfort in the fact that the vast majority of police officers are honest, forthright individuals who are committed to doing the job right. To those officers who aren’t, the FBI’s Miami Area Corruption Task Force was assembled and designed to root them out.”
“Honesty and integrity are the core values of every effective police officer,” said State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. “Former Biscayne Park Police Officers Guillermo Ravelo, Charlie Dayoub and Raul Fernandez undermined their essential task of protecting the community, in some instances by using excessive force and in others, by conspiring to deprive suspects of their civil rights so as to produce bogus arrests. This absolute abuse of power by all three officers violated every aspect of the oath Ravelo, Dayoub, and Fernandez took the day they became police officers.”
“The officers’ actions are everything we guard against in law enforcement and violated our most important principals,” said FDLE Miami Special Agent in Charge Troy Walker. “When an officer abuses the public’s trust, there must be severe consequences. I thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their work on this case.”
According to court filings, on Jan. 23, 2013 and Feb. 26, 2014, at the direction of then Biscayne Park Police Department Chief Raimundo Atesiano, 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 a separate incident, on April 7, 2013, Ravelo responded to a request for assistance from another Biscayne Park police officer who had conducted a traffic stop. During the arrest of the driver, Ravelo used unreasonable force by striking the handcuffed driver with his fists.
Former Chief Atesiano previously pleaded guilty to acting under color of law as chief of police when on three separate occasions he ordered officers Ravelo, Charlie Dayoub and Raul Fernandez to falsely arrest and charge individuals with unsolved burglaries. In court filings related to the 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. Former Chief Atesiano is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 27, 2018.
Former officers Charlie Dayoub and Raul Fernandez were each sentenced to 12 months in prison for their role in falsely arresting a 16-year old juvenile, “T.D.,” for four unsolved burglaries. Dayoub and Fernandez were the first officers to cooperate with the government and accept responsibility for their criminal acts. Their cooperation directly implicated Atesiano and resulted in an indictment being returned against the former chief charging civil rights violations.
As noted at the hearing and in court filings, on June 13, 2013, Chief Atesiano instructed the officers 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.
According to court filings, Chief 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.
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.