Miami cop convicted in civil rights case sentenced to four years in prison

 

dovalle@MiamiHerald.com

Former Miami Police Sgt. Raul Iglesias will serve four years in federal prison after his conviction for stealing drugs from traffickers, planting cocaine on suspects and lying to federal agents.

He will surrender to begin his sentence on April 26.

In January, a jury convicted Iglesias, 40, of two counts of civil rights violations, along with conspiracy to possess and possession with the intent to distribute cocaine and crack cocaine.

Jurors also found him guilty of obstruction of justice and making false official statements. U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga on Friday also sentenced Iglesias to an additional three years of supervised release.

A second detective, Roberto Asanza, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor drug charges stemming from the same investigation. During a tense trial attended by his supporters — members of Miami’s police union — Asanza testified against Iglesias, as did four detectives who worked on his Crime Suppression Team.

Federal prosecutors painted Iglesias, a former U.S. Marine, as a rogue sergeant who over the course of five months in 2010 planted cocaine on a suspect, stole drugs and money from dope dealers, and lied about a box of money left in an abandoned car as part of an FBI sting.

According to court documents, Iglesias had faced a recommended sentence of up to six years.

Prosecutors wanted a stiff sentence, saying Iglesias refused to take responsibility for his actions, blaming other cops and after his conviction engaging in a letter-writing “smear” campaign against those who testified against him.

Iglesias’s “abuse of his badge and his supervisory authority as sergeant in charge of a [crime suppression unit] team made it possible for him to easily steal money and drugs, distribute drugs to [confidential informants], and plant drugs to frame a citizen,” prosecutors wrote in court filings. “He further abused his position of authority by using his subordinates as pawns in his crimes.”

A harsh penalty would “send a clear message” to potentially crooked cops, federal prosecutor Ricardo Del Toro wrote in a sentencing memo.

But Iglesias’s attorney, Rick Diaz, argued for probation, saying that the ex-sergeant had already lost his career.

“He really poses no danger to the public,” Diaz wrote in a court document.

Iglesias was sentenced as the Miami Police Department has been beset by a string of misconduct allegations against its officers.

Earlier this month, two Miami officers were arrested on federal ID-theft and tax-refund fraud related charges. A group of officers also have been charged in connection with an alleged protection racket for a Liberty City gambling house.

So far, 11 officers have been relieved of duty, and two others were also charged.

In another case, Miami Officer Luis Hernandez was arrested by state authorities in January for allegedly raping a woman he was supposed to transport to jail. He has pleaded not guilty.

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