Police framed a teen for 4 burglaries so chief could tout perfect clearance rate, prosecutors say

Washington Post

Raimundo Atesiano had a statistic to tout at a city council meeting for the tiny village of 3,000 in the middle of Florida's Miami-Dade County.

The Biscayne Park Police Department, of which Atesiano was police chief at the time, had a clearance rate of 100 percent for burglaries, he said at the July 2013 meeting, according to federal court documents.

But the statistics were a fictitious stunt to gain favor with elected officials, according to an indictment filed by Benjamin Greenberg, the United States Attorney for South Florida, which his office announced on Monday.

Atesiano, with the help of two officers from his department, conspired to falsely arrest and charge a 16-year-old for four unsolved burglary cases that year, prosecutors said.

Atesiano and the two former officers, Charlie Dayoub and Raul Fernandez, were charged by federal prosecutors with conspiracy to violate civil rights under color of law and deprivation of the 16-year-old's civil rights. The three could face 11-year sentences in prison if convicted.

The incident began on June 13, when Atesiano told Dayoub and Fernandez that he "wanted them to unlawfully arrest T.D. for unsolved burglaries despite knowing that there was no evidence that T.D. had committed the burglaries," prosecutors said. Dayoub and Fernandez gathered information for the arrest "knowing there was no evidence and no lawful basis to arrest and charge T.D," officials said.

The four burglaries for which the person listed in documents only as T.D. was charged occurred between April and May of that year.

Prosecutors said that Fernandez agreed to write and notarize the four arrest affidavits with "false narratives," and Dayoub signed the affadavits, the indictment said.

Neil Schuster, who was identified by the Miami Herald as Atesanio's lawyer, did not immediately return a request for comment. Fernandez and Dayoub are expected in court later this month, a spokeswoman for the United States Attorney's office said.

The Herald reported that Atesanio surrendered to authorities and appeared in federal court on Monday. He was released on $50,000 bond and has an arraignment scheduled for June 25.

Atesiano has been accused of improprieties in the past. According to ethics forms filed with Miami-Dade County, he was investigated to see if he had exploited his position as police chief to use public funds to repay a personal loan to an officer in his department in 2014. He admitted to drawing up a contract with the employee, in which Fernandez had been named as a witness, but said that it was a joke. Investigators closed the complaint without recommending disciplinary action, after finding insufficient evidence that the loan was ever given.

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