Federal court

Fired Miami cop pleads guilty to contempt for retaliating against fellow cops

 

jweaver@MiamiHerald.com

Already imprisoned for a corruption conviction, a fired Miami police sergeant pleaded guilty Wednesday to a criminal contempt charge for retaliating on the Internet against fellow officers who assisted the FBI in the probe.

In January, federal prosecutors charged Raul Iglesias with posting undercover investigative recordings on a law enforcement website and on YouTube, in an effort to smear the reputations of colleagues in a now-disbanded narcotics squad who helped build the case against him.

Iglesias, whose screen name was “Chivas Regal,” was 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 last year, but they were still “protected” from disclosure, even after trial, under the judge's order, according to federal prosecutors.

Iglesias was charged with criminal contempt and retaliating against witnesses by posting the phone recordings on April 24, 2013 — two days before he was to begin his four-year prison sentence for stealing drugs and money from dope dealers.

Under the plea agreement, Iglesias, 41, pleaded guilty to the contempt offense, which could add more than one year to his current prison term. U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro scheduled his sentencing for Sept. 5. The retaliation charges will be dropped under the deal negotiated between prosecutor Kimberly Selmore and defense attorney Roy Kahn.

As part of the deal, Iglesias agreed to help the U.S. attorney’s office on other investigations, which could lead to a reduced prison sentence.

“He just wants to put this part of his life behind him and get back to the principles of the good things he learned growing up,” Kahn said after the plea hearing Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga, who presided over Iglesias’ trial in January 2013, decided to enforce her protective order after federal prosecutors brought the alleged violation to her attention in May of last year. They found the postings, titled “Miami Mice,” on the law enforcement website, leoaffairs.com, and YouTube.com.

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.

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.

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.

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