The public loves to hear that police are solving crimes. Local politicians love it even more. So law enforcement officers and officials are under pressure to deliver the goods when it comes to their crime statistics.
In a July 2013 city council meeting, former Biscayne Park Police Chief Raimundo Atesiano reported his department had a 100 percent clearance rate for burglaries. While impressive sounding and technically true, that statistic was based on Atesiano and two of his officers pinning four unsolved burglaries on one innocent teenager. Now the cops are facing federal civil rights charges for the frame-up.
Conspiracy Against Rights
Federal prosecutors claim Atesiano encouraged two officers, Charlie Dayoub and Raul Fernandez, to arrest a 16-year-old in June 2013 — prior to the city council meeting — “knowing that there was no evidence and no lawful basis to support such charges.” Dayoub and Fernandez collected evidence from four separate burglaries of unoccupied homes, completed four arrest reports, and even created false narratives to imply the teen (referred to only as T.D. in the indictment) had broken into the homes in April and May of that year.
The officers “gathered the information for the unsolved burglary cases that we be the basis of the arrest knowing there was no evidence and no law basis to arrest and charge T.D. with four unsolved burglaries,” according to the indictment. “The existence of this fictitious 100% clearance rate of reported burglaries was used by Atesiano to gain favor with elected officials and concerned citizens.”
Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law
Atesiano, Dayoub, and Fernandez were all charged with conspiring to violate T.D.’s civil rights and depriving him of those rights. Atesiano surrendered to law enforcement this week, was released on a $50,000 bond, and will be arraigned on June 25. Dayoub and Fernandez received summonses and are expected to appear in federal court later this month.
Unsurprisingly, it’s not Atesiano’s first brush with controversy. The former police chief resigned in 2014, and it was later revealed he was involved in a personal loan scheme, borrowing thousands from subordinates with promises to repay the money with taxpayer-funded overtime and off-duty work. Atesiano and his officers are looking at up to ten years in prison for these latest civil rights charges.
- Ex-Police Chief, 2 Officers Framed Teen for Burglaries in Tiny Miami Town, Feds Say (Miami Herald)
- What to Do After a Wrongful Arrest? (FindLaw Blotter)
- Federal Civil Rights Charges: What’s the Process? (FindLaw Blotter)
- What You Need to Know About Suing the Police (FindLaw’s Injured)