The former police chief of a South Florida town was sentenced to three years in prison Tuesday for a conspiracy in his department to frame blacks for crimes they did not commit, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
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U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore sentenced
Raimundo Atesiano, who pleaded guilty in September to a conspiracy charge of depriving three men of their civil rights because they were charged without a legal basis, the Miami Herald reported.
Atesiano resigned as police chief in 2014, the newspaper reported.
"When I took the job, I was not prepared," Atesiano told the judge Tuesday, according to the Herald. "I made some very, very bad decisions."
Prosecutors said the crimes for which black people were falsely arrested included burglaries and vehicle break-ins.
In August, former Biscayne Park police officers Charlie Dayoub, 38, and Raul Fernandez, 62, pleaded guilty to falsifying the arrest affidavits for a 16-year-old black suspect for four unsolved break-ins in June 2013, the Herald reported. In October, both men were sentenced to a year in prison.
A third police officer, Guillermo Ravelo, 37, admitted to falsifying arrest warrants for two men at the direction of Atesiano in 2013 and 2014, the newspaper reported. He was sentenced to two years and three months in prison.
Miami-Dade Public Defender Carlos Martinez said Atesiano “damaged lives.”
"He fabricated evidence. He damaged lives. Even before he was chief, Atesiano issued 2,200 traffic tickets himself in one year, fabricated cases, and wrongfully arrested innocent individuals," Martinez said, according to the Herald. "He created a culture of corruption that has further eroded public trust in the criminal justice system. Just as appalling is the damage Atesiano has done to law-abiding, hard-working, police officers and chiefs."