Former Miami-Dade Detective Karel Rosario, who once put people behind bars for stealing, is off to prison for 366 days for trying to sell luxury jewelry swiped from a suspect’s house.
A Miami-Dade judge on Wednesday said the crime “makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever.”
“The worst part of this for me is that you were a police office and we trusted you and you violated that trust when you did this,” Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Teresa Mary Pooler told him.
Rosario was immediately taken into custody, a stunning end to the career of a detective who worked on a major investigations and once played semi-pro basketball in Miami.
Prosecutors said Rosario, 38, was part of a team of Miami-Dade detectives that conducted the raid of a West Miami-Dade home along with federal agents. The home belonged to Yulia Martinez, who is facing federal prosecution on accusations of illegally selling pharmaceuticals.
After she bonded out of a detention center, Martinez discovered that her custom-made, diamond-encrusted Cartier watch was missing, along with several other Bulgari, Rolex and David Yurman pieces. Several expensive bottles of perfume also vanished. The total value of all the pieces was well over $100,000.
Police found surveillance footage of Rosario — an easily recognizable 6-foot-10 former college basketball player — later trying to sell the pieces at Miami’s Seybold jewelry marketplace.
Working with a jeweler, an undercover police investigator bought five pieces from Rosario for $17,000, according to prosecutors.
“He’s not a real criminal. He had no idea what to with this jewelry,” said his lawyer, Lawrence Kerr.
Rosario, a Miami-Dade police officer since 2006, was part of the organized-crime unit. He was also the lead detective in the investigation of a supposedly stolen high-end jet — his arrest helped tank the prosecution’s case against the suspect.
He is also a former Florida International University basketball player who played in 2007 for a semi-pro basketball team called the Miami Tropics.
Facing overwhelming evidence, Rosario pleaded guilty in December to dealing in stolen property. He insisted that another officer gave him the jewelry.
“I did not take the jewelry from that house,” Rosario insisted.
For prosecutor Isis Perez, the protest didn’t matter because Rosario still tried to sell the pieces.
“That jewelry was not his,” Perez said. “It was taken from a scene. It never should have happened.”
On Wednesday, Rosario indignantly tried to withdraw his plea – insisting prosecutors took too long to turn over certain reports that were evidence in the case.
But the judge refused, saying Rosario knew the details of the case when he pleaded guilty.