Assistant Attorney General John Gore for the Justice Department’s Civil
Rights Division, U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan for the Southern
District of Florida, 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.
“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.”
“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 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.
Related court documents and information may be found on the website
of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.