Nearly a decade ago, Elvis Pino was the ringleader of a group of wannabe cops who began pulling over motorists, responding to crime scenes and stealing gear from Miami-Dade police cars.
He was even implicated in a plot to assassinate the prosecutor and detectives dogging his crew. Ultimately, Pino spent five years behind bars before emerging from Florida prison last year.
Pino’s freedom was fleeting — he has been jailed again, this time on allegations that he distributed hundreds of images of child pornography.
Investigators say that Pino, in July, used his cellphone to send the images to 50 people via group text messages. But some of the phone numbers were outdated and had been assigned to new subscribers, some of whom immediately reported the images to authorities.
Detectives tracked the images to Pino, 28, who on Friday will be formally charged in Miami-Dade circuit court.
Pino, of Hialeah Gardens, is facing felony charges of transmitting child pornography. His defense attorney did not respond Tuesday to requests for comment.
Back in 2006, Pino was part of a group of friends from Barbara Goleman Senior High School who failed in their quest to become police officers, although they often posted photos of themselves in faux uniforms on Myspace.com — then the most popular of social media sites.
Pino and his friends were accused of robbing a Miami-Dade Special Response Team van and a truck parked at a station in Doral. Stolen were strobe lights, chemical agent canisters and “stop sticks,” spikes used to pierce tires of fleeing cars.
No guns were taken — they were locked up inside the headquarters. Pino and his friends also targeted cellphone stores and sold police gear to other criminals, authorities said.
After he was arrested, Pino told detectives that he and his friends would cruise around, often dispatching real officers to fake calls to divert them from robberies under way. Some of the young men would also make their own traffic stops and respond to police scenes.
Pino, who went by the nickname “Asteroid One,” also faced a charge of lewd and lascivious battery. Detectives said he posed as a Hialeah internal affairs detective — complete with business cards — to mislead the family of a 13-year-old girl with whom he is accused of having sex.
His case was featured in a 2007 Miami Herald story about police impersonators.
While he was awaiting trial, Pino — after consulting with a Santeria priest — tried to get one of his cohorts to kill the prosecutor and two lead detectives in his case. But the cohort was actually an informant for police.
Faced with the possibility of new charges, Pino immediately pleaded guilty to an array of felonies, including impersonating a law enforcement officer, burglary and grand theft.
Pino left prison in January 2014.
In all, Pino sent at least 300 images via the cellphone, according to an arrest report by Miami-Dade Detective Jeanette Azcuy. Police say he also sent a lewd text message to a co-worker.