Raimundo Atesiano, a former chief of police of a small town in Florida, had a strategy to create a fictitious 100 percent clearance rate for burglaries in his jurisdiction. According to prosecutors, his strategy involved arresting innocent black males and pinning the crimes on them.
FBI agents and Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigators learned Atesiano ordered three of his subordinates at Biscayne Park to violate civil rights in three separate occasions.
“Atesiano admitted that on one occasion he instructed an officer to falsely arrest and charge an individual for several vehicle burglaries based upon what Atesiano knew were false confessions,” prosecutors said in a statement.
As part of a plea agreement, Atesiano, 52, pleaded guilty in federal court on Friday to conspiring with subordinate officers to violate individuals’ civil rights by making false arrests.
Atesiano’s trial was set to start on Monday. Had he been found guilty, he could have faced a maximum of 11 years in prison. Prosecutors are now recommending a two year sentence.
Prosecutors identified their victims as “C.D.,” “E.B.” and “T.C.,” a 16-year-old boy. Although the three victims who were targeted were black, prosecutors did not consider race as a factor in the case.
Three of his accomplices, former Biscayne Park officers Guillermo Ravelo, Charlie Dayoub and Raul Fernandez, had already entered guilty pleas for their roles in the conspiracy.
Records show Ravelo arrested “C.D.” on Jan. 23, 2013 and “E.B.” on Feb. 26, 2014. Despite the lack of evidence incriminating them, Ravelo accused “C.D.” and “E.B.,” two men in their 30s, of burglaries.
Records show Dayoub and Fernandez arrested the teenage boy on June 13, 2013, and they accused him of being involved in four burglaries.
The two 2013 arrests allowed Atesiano to brag about the department’s clearance rate for burglaries during a council meeting on July 9, 2013. After two years at Biscayne Park, Atesiano resigned as chief in 2014.
The sentencing hearings are Oct. 4 for Ravelo, Oct. 16 for Fernandez and Nov. 27 for Atesiano.