Crime

Miami-Dade detective pleads guilty in stolen-jewelry case

Miami-Dade Detective Karel Rosario pleaded guilty Tuesday in the case of high-end luxury jewelry stolen from a suspect’s home. He is pictured here in 2007 for a a Miami Herald story on a local semi-pro basketball team.
Miami-Dade Detective Karel Rosario pleaded guilty Tuesday in the case of high-end luxury jewelry stolen from a suspect’s home. He is pictured here in 2007 for a a Miami Herald story on a local semi-pro basketball team. El Nuevo Herald

With no plea deal in hand and facing overwhelming evidence, a Miami-Dade detective admitted Tuesday he swiped high-end jewelry from a suspect’s home.

Karel Rosario pleaded guilty Tuesday. Now, a Miami-Dade judge must now decide sometime in the coming months whether to send the former organized-crime investigator to state prison for dealing in stolen property.

He will be sentenced Jan. 22 before Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Teresa Mary Pooler.

Rosario’s defense lawyer declined to comment.

Prosecutors said Rosario 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.

“Detective Rosario sold out his integrity the minute he picked up that jewelry,” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement on Tuesday. “He has let down the good people of Miami-Dade County and every professional police officer who risks death each day to uphold our laws.”

Days later, according to prosecutors, Rosario tried to sell the pieces at the Seybold jewelry marketplace building in downtown Miami. Video surveillance captured the efforts of Rosario, an easily-recognizable 6-foot-10 tall detective, according to an arrest warrant.

But the pieces were so high-end that no one at the building at the time would buy them.

A jeweler 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 — the same one who had sold Martinez the jewelry in the first place — saw the photos, and public-corruption investigators were soon notified.

An undercover detective, in a meeting that was secretly recorded on video, later bought five pieces from Rosario for $17,000, according to the warrant.

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.

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