Clarens Desrouleaux, a Haitian man who served five years in prison after being framed for unsolved burglaries by Biscayne Park police, is accusing the town and three officers of violating his civil rights in a federal lawsuit.
Desrouleaux, 41, was deported to his native Haiti after he completed his prison term last year. But last month, Miami-Dade prosecutors threw out his conviction after discovering that a former Biscayne Park police chief and two officers pinned three home break-ins on him that he did not commit in January 2013.
Desrouleaux’s lawyer filed the lawsuit on Friday, the very day that former Police Chief Raimundo Atesiano pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiring with the other two officers in depriving the former El Portal man of his civil rights. Atesiano also admitted in court papers that he violated the civil rights of two other black men framed for other burglaries in Biscayne Park while he served as chief during 2013 and 2014.
Atesiano, 52, faces between 2 and 2 1/2 years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines. The other two officers, Charles Dayoub and Guillermo Ravelo, who also pleaded guilty after admitting to falsely arresting Desrouleaux, are awaiting sentence, too.
Desrouleaux’s suit, filed by attorney Sagi Shaked, echoes many of the allegations in the federal criminal cases against Atesiano and the two other officers. A fourth officer, Raul Fernandez, was also implicated in the false-arrest conspiracy but was not involved in the Desrouleaux case.
The suit claims that Desrouleaux, who had a prior criminal record before 2013, “fit the racial profile” that Atesiano and the officers pursued in order to pin three unsolved burglaries on him. The former police chief violated his rights so he could boast about his department’s 100 percent clearance rate in 2013, according to the suit.
The Biscayne Park cops homed in on Desrouleaux because he was found with a check stolen from one of the three home burglaries in January 2013.
“While there is evidence that Clarens Desrouleaux was in possession of a stolen check, there is no evidence to suggest that he was the individual who actually broke into the house and stole the check,” according to a Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office memo.
The case hinged on Dayoub and Ravelo’s claim that Desrouleaux confessed to the three breaks-ins. The supposed confession, however, was not recorded on video or audio.
In the suit, Desrouleaux said he was unlawfully coerced into confessing to the property crimes. He said he feared he would face 30 years in prison as a habitual offender if he didn’t cut a plea deal.
Desrouleaux was represented by the Miami-Dade Public Defender’s Office, which interviewed the officers during sworn depositions. “They reiterated that Clarens Desrouleaux admitted to the crime and two others,” the state attorney’s memo said.
Now, Desrouleaux is seeking unspecified damages from Biscayne Park and the officers for sending him to prison.