A Florida judge on Tuesday sentenced a pair of convicted former officers to one year in prison for their role in pinning a string of home burglaries on an innocent Black teen.
Expecting to avoid jail time, ex-Biscayne Park officers Charlie Dayoub and Raul Fernandez were instead handcuffed and led into custody after U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore sentenced them to the maximum one year behind bars, The Miami Herald reported.
Moore criticized prosecutors for seeking leniency in the case and recommending just eight months of house arrest for Dayoub and one year of probation for Fernandez as reward for their testimony implicating corrupt ex-Biscayne Park Police Chief Raimundo Atesiano. The disgraced police chief pleaded guilty in August to pressuring his officers to frame innocent minorities for crimes they did not commit.
“It would have been a slap on the wrist, and it would have sent entirely the wrong message — particularly to the minority community,” Moore said during sentencing Tuesday. “To think that they can come in court and get a slap on the wrist is insulting to the men and women in law enforcement.”
Both officers gave grand jury testimony to help the feds build a case against Atesiano and pleaded guilty in August to depriving a 16-year-old of his civil rights by framing him for four unsolved burglaries in 2013 at the direction of the former police chief. The goal? To fake a 100 percent burglary clearance rate, even if it meant pinning crimes on random Black people.
“If they have burglaries that are open cases that are not solved yet, if you see anybody Black walking through our streets and they have somewhat of a record, arrest them so we can pin them for all the burglaries,” one officer said in an internal probe launched in 2014. “They were basically doing this to have a 100% clearance rate for the city.”
The then-teenager, identified in court documents as “T.D.,” has since sued the city and the officers involved, accusing police of violating his civil rights and maliciously prosecuting him on bogus charges. Prosecutors later dismissed the charges the against T.D. after the state attorney’s office noticed the fraudulent arrest affidavits all sounded eerily similar to one another.
Atesiano is set to be sentenced in November and is facing up to 10 years in prison.