A Miami-Dade police detective stole high-end jewelry from a suspect — only to be busted when he tried to hawk the unique pieces and they were spotted by the same jeweler who originally sold them, prosecutors said on Monday.
Detective Karel Rosario, an organized-crime investigator, surrendered Monday night to face a charge of second-degree grand theft.
Rosario has been a Miami-Dade cop since 2006. It was unknown if he had a defense attorney Monday night.
According to an arrest warrant, the theft happened on May 20, when federal agents and police raided the West Miami-Dade home of Yulia Martinez, who is facing federal prosecution on accusations of illegally selling pharmaceuticals.
Rosario was part of a team of Miami-Dade detectives that conducted the raid along with agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration.
After bonding 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.
Detectives are supposed to document everything seized in a raid but officers left no receipts, according to the warrant. One week later, Rosario tried to sell the pieces at the Seybold building, the famed jewelry marketplace in downtown Miami. Video surveillance captured the efforts of Rosario, an easily recognizable 6-foot-10 tall detective, the warrant said.
The pieces were so high-end that no one at the building at the time would buy them.
Jeweler Joel Hernandez later agreed to help him sell a Cartier watch and a Cartier-style bracelet. He posted photos to a group chat through the phone messaging program “WhatsApp.”
Another jeweler, Joel Vigo, saw the photos and immediately called Hernandez to report that he himself had sold the custom Cartier watch, for over $20,000, and the bracelet to Martinez’s husband, the warrant said.
The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office public corruption unit was notified. Hernandez, working with the cops, arranged for Rosario to sell the watch to a buyer at a Miami jewelry store on June 9.
The buyer was actually an undercover detective, who bought five pieces from Rosario for $17,000, according to the warrant. The meeting was secretly video-recorded.
Rosario was immediately detained. According to the warrant, Rosario would only admit that he saw the jewelry inside Martinez’s home during the raid.
Martinez and her husband are awaiting federal trial on allegations they were part of a ring selling fraudulently acquired pharmaceuticals.
“Good police work always depends on an officer’s honesty and integrity,” said Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle. “Detective Rosario’s stealing makes him no different than the thieves he would apprehend. This is a sad day for the law enforcement community.”