A U.S. judge in Miami on Thursday sentenced former Miami Springs police Sgt. Andres Quintanilla to nine years in federal prison for acting as an escort during a purported 10 kilogram cocaine deal.
“I’ve lost everything I’ve worked for,” Quintanilla said at his sentencing hearing before Chief U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore. “My pride and my ego got to me.”
Quintanilla read a statement for about 20 minutes before bursting into tears and then holding his head down at his attorney’s station.
An attempt by Quintanilla’s attorney, André Rouviere, for a punishment of 57 months was denied.
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Quintanilla, 33, was arrested in May by the FBI on a federal corruption charge. He pleaded guilty July 6 to one count of “attempting to affect commerce by extortion under color of law,” according to a plea agreement filed with the U.S. District Court in Miami.
According to the federal complaint, a confidential FBI source said he told Quintanilla in September 2014 that he was a drug trafficker. Instead of arresting the source, Quintanilla “offered to help the [informant’s] drug trafficking business.”
Quintanilla provided the location of an undercover police narcotics officer, gave the source the names of three Miami-Dade police officers and ran the name of a purported drug dealer in a law enforcement database when asked to do so by the source, the complaint said.
By December 2014, Quintanilla had agreed to act as an escort during a purported 10 kilogram cocaine deal, according to the complaint. Quintanilla also chose a safe location in Miami Springs where the source could exchange 10 kilograms of cocaine for $250,000.
After the purported deal took place, Quintanilla then followed the source — while in uniform and driving his Miami Springs marked police vehicle — to an express package service center, where Quintanilla believed the source would ship the $250,000 of drug proceeds to New York, the complaint said.
In exchange for his assistance, Quintanilla accepted $3,500 in bribe payments from the source, it said.
Quintanilla forfeited $3,500 “from proceeds traceable to the commission of the offense,” as well as a $100 special assessment fee, the plea agreement states.
“This is a good man who did a bad thing,” said Rouviere, an attorney based in Coral Gables.
The court could have imposed “a statutory maximum term of imprisonment of up to 20 years, followed by a term of supervised release of up to three years, along with a fine of $250,000,” the plea agreement states.
Dozens of supporters wrote character letters on Quintanilla’s behalf, including his mother, fiancée and local police officers.
“I can testify better than anyone else that Andres started befriending the [confidential informant] with good intentions,” wrote Quintanilla’s fiancée, Angelina Concepcion, in a letter to Judge Moore. “He found this man very suspicious, and added that he could be the link to the corruption he suspects is being covered up in this city.”
Quintanilla’s problems began, he wrote in a letter to the judge, when he started hanging out at a local convenience store near Miami International Airport. “I fantasized that the store was a hub for corruption and criminal activity.”
Quintanilla began to worry when he noticed that the store’s owner “follows the Islam religion and has a large portrait of Mecca and Arabs in his personal office,” he wrote.
The store’s owner “was also good friends with city politicians and other known criminals,” according to Quintanilla and that arresting its owner would be the “differentiator in my career.”
“Now I am on my way to prison, a disgrace to my family and community,” Quintanilla wrote.
Quintanilla, who started with the Springs police department as a public service aide in 1999 at age 17, earned $117,772 in salary and benefits last year, according to 2014 city payroll records.
He is founder and director of 911 Realty Group in Coral Gables. He earned two master’s degrees from Florida International University, one in criminal justice, the other in public administration, according to the sentencing report. Miami Springs police dubbed him “The Bookworm.”
Quintanilla was “first place on the lieutenant’s promotional list” at the time of his arrest, the report shows. Because of his actions, he has “lost his opportunity to retire in six years and collect a life-long pension.”
Quintanilla was sentenced to 108 months in prison, fined $5,000 and will serve one year probation upon release. He was immediately taken into custody by U.S. Marshals amid cries from his family.