National News

Florida Police Chief and 2 Officers Are Accused of Framing Teenager for Burglaries

Posted June 13, 2018 7:32 p.m. EDT

A former police chief in Florida who wanted to appear to be a successful crime fighter instructed two officers to arrest a 16-year-old for four burglaries, even though they had no evidence that the teenager was the culprit, an indictment said.

The chief, Raimundo Atesiano, and the officers, Charlie Dayoub and Raul Fernandez, were charged this week with conspiracy against the right to be free from unreasonable seizure by the police, and depriving the teenager, identified as T.D., of that right, according to the indictment.

An initial hearing for Atesiano was held on Monday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, in Miami. He was granted a $50,000 personal surety bond and will be arraigned on June 25. The other two defendants are scheduled to have court appearances later this month, court records show.

If convicted, they each face a maximum sentence of 11 years in prison, a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office said. Atesiano’s lawyer, Neil M. Schuster, declined to comment on Wednesday.

The U.S. attorney’s office and city officials were not available on Wednesday to comment on Atesiano’s career as a law enforcement official and what impact the accusations had on the teenager’s life.

The Village of Biscayne Park, a small community with a population of about 3,200, had 11 full-time police officers and two reserve officers in 2013, when Atesiano headed the department.

The department had just recorded a lower number of burglaries in 2012, down to 19 from 36 in 2011.

On June 13, 2013, with three burglaries in April and one in May unsolved, Atesiano “caused and encouraged” Dayoub and Fernandez to falsely arrest T.D., the indictment said.

Fernandez, who was a reserve police officer, is said to have written and notarized arrest affidavits, while Dayoub, a full-time officer, signed them. T.D. was given felony charges for the four burglaries of unoccupied residences, the indictment said.

The next month, Atesiano was able to present the city with a perfect record of solving burglaries, though the indictment called that “fictitious.”

He did this “to gain favor with elected officials and concerned citizens,” the indictment said, telling a City Council meeting on July 9, 2013, “that his department had a 100 percent clearance rate for burglaries.”