Federal court

Convicted Miami police sergeant charged anew with criminal contempt

 

jweaver@MiamiHerald.com

A convicted Miami police sergeant who is already imprisoned for corruption offenses, including stealing drugs and money from dope dealers, faces a new criminal indictment.

Federal prosecutors have charged now-fired Sgt. Raul Iglesias with contempt for posting undercover investigative recordings on a law enforcement website and on YouTube, in an effort to smear the reputations of fellow officers who helped build the original case against him.

Iglesias has been charged with violating a judge’s protective order by posting the telephone recordings of two fellow Miami police detectives who had engaged him in conversations under the direction of federal investigators. Both Miami officers worked for Iglesias when he ran the department’s undercover drug-fighting squad.

The two phone recordings were not used at Iglesias' trial, but they were still “protected” from disclosure, even after trial, under the judge’s order, according to federal prosecutors. Now, Iglesias finds himself charged with criminal contempt and retaliating against witnesses by posting the phone recordings on April 24 — two days before he was to begin his four-year prison sentence.

Iglesias, 41, imprisoned at a South Carolina correctional facility, is scheduled to have his initial appearance in Miami federal court on Jan. 16. If convicted of the contempt charges, Iglesias faces up to life in prison. The retaliation offenses carry maximum sentences of 10 years.

U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga, who presided over Iglesias’ trial last January, issued an order to enforce her protective order after federal prosecutors brought the alleged violation to her attention in May. Prosecutors said the screen name of the person who posted the investigative recordings was “Chivas Regal.” The postings on the law enforcement Web site, leoaffairs.com, and YouTube.com were titled, “Miami Mice.”

Last June, the judge ordered “the person using the screen name Chivas Regal” to remove the protected audio recordings from the two sites immediately, without identifying the name of the actual person who posted them.

The phone recordings were then removed from YouTube.com and leoaffairs.com.

Altonaga stopped short of holding a follow-up hearing to consider finding anyone in contempt for violating her protective order.

Miami defense attorney Rick Diaz, who represented Iglesias, questioned the legal basis for the indictment, filed Dec. 19, by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly Selmore.

“They are going to have a very hard time proving he violated the protective order,” said Diaz, who plans to ask another attorney in his Coral Gables law firm to represent Iglesias on the new charges.

“The government is seeking to do through this indictment what Judge Altonaga would not do in her decision to enforce the protective order after trial,” Diaz said.

The judge had issued her order in 2012 to cover “sensitive and confidential records and audio recordings of cooperating witnesses” to prevent retaliation against any police officers assisting the FBI-led probe of Iglesias, according to prosecutors.

The order stated that “defense counsel shall hold the discovery materials in strict confidence, disclosing this information to the client, office staff, investigators and witnesses (including any experts) only to the extent necessary to assist in the defense.”

Last March, Iglesias was sentenced to four years in federal prison after a Miami federal jury convicted him 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 to FBI agents. He was acquitted of one civil rights conspiracy count.

At trial, federal prosecutors Ricardo Del Toro and Michael Berger 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 cash left in an abandoned car as part of an FBI sting.

A second detective, Roberto Asanza, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor drug charges stemming from the same investigation.

During the tense trial, Asanza testified against his former boss. Four other detectives who worked on Iglesias’ Crime Suppression Team also testified against him.

In the courtroom, members of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police union sat on one side of the courtroom to show support for Iglesias, while the department's Internal Affairs investigators who worked with the FBI in making the case sat on the other.

Outside, the case created a chasm between Iglesias' supporters, who characterized the detectives who testified against him as “rats,” and Iglesias' detractors, who felt the department needed to clean up internal corruption.

Iglesias’ trial was held while the FBI and Justice Department were separately investigating allegations of corruption and excessive force in the Miami Police Department, leading to firings, resignations and prosecutions of more than 10 officers over the past year.

Read more Miami-Dade stories from the Miami Herald

  • Friends and Neighbors

    Friends and Neighbors: Campaign raises money to feed hungry school children

    Local food banks want to help children who often go hungry get what they need to thrive in school. Community support is needed.

  • Friends and Neighbors

    Florida Mayors join forces to say no to bullies

    Looking back at my growing up days, I can remember how school bullies tried to made life miserable for me and a lot of other youngsters. I remember being followed home one day by a bully who wanted to start a fight. When I kept ignoring her, she soon turned, with her followers and went home. Unlike some of today’s bullies, she didn’t try to hit me. She was just all mouth, spitting out insulting remarks.

  • Crime Watch

    Crime Watch: How to protect your children online

    School will be starting soon and many of you emailed me regarding the social network sites that your kids will be using this year. Nowadays it’s not just the computer at home but also their smartphones. You need to consider blocking your kids’ phones from some of these sites. Check with your telephone carrier to see what programs they have to offer in protecting kids.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category