It takes a special sort of asshole to pin a bunch of crimes on an innocent 16-year-old kid just for being black. But former Biscayne Park Police Chief Raimundo Atesiano now admits he's exactly that sort of asshole: Federal prosecutors announced today that Atesiano pleaded guilty to framing a Biscayne Park teenager, known as "T.D." in court records, for a series of burglaries he did not commit. Prosecutors say Atesiano "on three separate occasions" instructed his employees to frame innocent black suspects.
“The right to be free from false arrests is fundamental to our Constitution and system of justice,” Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore said this afternoon in a media release. “Law enforcement officers who abuse their authority and deny any individual this right will be held accountable. As the Chief of Police, Defendant Atesiano was trusted by his community to lead their police officers by example; he has failed his community and the officers of Biscayne Park.”
Earlier this year, the feds unsealed a blockbuster case against Atesiano and three of his former subordinates. The FBI said Atesiano had instructed employees in his tiny, 11-person police department to pin burglaries on black residents with criminal records in order to pretend his department had a 100 percent clearance rate for home thefts.
To that end, Atesiano's department arrested T.D. on claims he had robbed a string of four homes in April and May 2013. Atesiano later bragged to his city council that he was working to solve every single robbery in town. But outside law-enforcement experts say a "100 percent" clearance rate for thefts is unheard of in police work and basically impossible to achieve.
The Miami Herald in July then uncovered even more damning details in the case: A Biscayne Park cop told internal investigators that Atesiano had told his employees to pin crimes on black people in general.
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"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,” Atesiano told his police force, according to one cop, Anthony De La Torre.
Three other officers — Guillermo Ravelo, Charlie Dayoub, and Raul Fernandez — previously pleaded guilty in separate cases related to the framing charges. The three are set to be sentenced next month. Atesiano awaits a November 27 sentencing date.
The now-adult victim, T.D., sued Biscayne Park, along with pretty much everyone involved in the scheme, in federal court earlier this year.
“It is a deliberate injustice to intentionally charge and arrest an innocent man," Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said today. "Police Chief Raimundo Atesiano’s actions were intended to give his community a false sense of security and were a betrayal of his oath to protect the residents of Biscayne Park and all the people of Miami-Dade County."