Homestead - South Dade

Former cop sentenced for violating migrant workers’ Constitutional rights.

Fresno Bee Staff Photo

For making traffic stops to steal from migrant workers then lying about it, convicted former Miami-Dade police detective William Kostopoulos wanted a sentence of probation.

U.S. District Court Judge Marcia G. Cooke edged a little more toward the Justice Department’s desires when she gave Kostopoulos three years for deprivation of rights under color of law and tampering with a witness.

The government wanted a five-year sentence after successfully arguing that Kostopoulos violated the workers’ Fourth Amendment Constitutional rights against unreasonable seizure of property. He committed theft in a September 2013 traffic stop and attempted a similar theft in another stop a month later.

In their reasoning for a lighter sentence, Kostopoulos’ attorneys argued in their sentencing memorandum, he’s “a former Miami-Dade detective with a unique name. The publicity surrounding his arrest and subsequent conviction is not easily forgotten. It will be no secret that he is a former police officer leaving him highly susceptible to abuse by other inmates.”

They also argued that the sentences given in the 2006 federal case against seven City of Miami officers who covered up four police involved shootings be used as a guideline. Jesus Aguero got thre years and a month. Arturo Beguiristain got sentenced to two years, three months.

“The other five defendants, some of whom were involved in the cover-up of the deaths, received sentences of 13 months and 16 months,” the memorandum stated. “If 13 and 16 months appropriately punish these officers for the injuries they caused and the elaborate scheme they executed to hide their crimes, Kostopoulos’ conduct can be punished appropriately by a term of probation.”

Aghast at “the audacity” of that request, the government slapped it down while calling Kostopoulos “a lying police officer who betrayed his badge and abused his authority to stop and steal from hard working and vulnerable migrant workers.”

David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal