A former Florida police officer has admitted to framing two innocent black men under the direction of his boss, the chief of police.
Former Biscayne Park officer Guillermo Ravelo made the admission on Thursday, July 26, in federal court as part of a plea deal, according to the Miami Herald. Ravelo said he arrested one man for two home burglaries and another for five car break-ins. Charges against both men were eventually dropped.
Ravelo pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the men’s rights.
He also confessed to punching a handcuffed man in the face during a traffic stop, entering a guilty plea for excessive force.
The prosecution intends to recommend a lenient sentence of at least 24 months for Ravelo as part of a plea deal, reports Law & Crime. Each charge carries a maximum of 10 years in prison. The judge could choose to ignore the prosecution's recommendation and order Ravelo to serve the terms consecutively.
Ravelo was fired from the force in March following the assault allegations from the traffic stop.
Ravelo’s admission has widened an ongoing corruption investigation of the Biscayne Park Police Department.
He said he arrested the two black men under the direction of former Police Chief Raimundo Atesiano.
Atesiano and officers Raul Fernandez and Charlie Dayoub were indicted in June for conspiracy after pinning four home burglaries on a 16-year-old black boy to reach a 100 percent clearance rate on theft, according to a separate Herald report.
Between 2013 and 2014, the Biscayne Police Department cleared 29 out of 30 burglaries. According to federal investigators, at least 11 of those cases were based on falsified arrest records.
Papers acquired by the Herald reveal a 2014 testimony that names Atesiano as the man behind the false arrests.
“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,” the officer cited in the testimony claims to have been told. “They were basically doing this to have a 100 percent clearance rate for the city.”
Ravelo’s admission could lead to an additional charge against Atesiano. The former police chief is awaiting trial. He pleaded not guilty to his conspiracy charge.
Like Ravelo, Fernandez and Dayoub intend to plead guilty and cooperate with the investigation. The pair’s next hearing is on August 3.
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