Thursday, May 30, 2013

Police Corruption: Former Puerto Rico Police Officers Convicted of Extorting a Defendant for $50,000

U.S. Department of Justice 
Office of Public Affairs

WASHINGTON—Two former police officers with the Police of Puerto Rico were convicted of attempting to extort a commonwealth defendant and soliciting bribe payments of $50,000, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez of the District of Puerto Rico.

Abimael Arroyo-Cruz, 30, of Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, was convicted by a jury on charges including conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery, bribery, conspiracy to commit extortion, and attempted extortion. Josue Becerril-Ramos, 36, of Carolina, Puerto Rico, pleaded guilty to the same counts during trial.

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, Arroyo and Becerril arrested eight individuals for possession of unregistered firearms and marijuana on August 2, 2012. The officers then solicited from one individual a bribe payment of $50,000 to have his case dismissed. Beginning on September 11, 2012, both officers spoke with the individual multiple times over the telephone, discussing payment details and strategies for dismissing the individual’s case. Arroyo and Becerril collected approximately $35,000 of the $50,000 in two different payment installments.

In exchange for the bribes, Arroyo and Becerril devised a plan whereby the officers would misidentify a co-defendant in court, leading to dismissal of that defendant’s case. When asked under oath at the preliminary hearing to identify the defendant, Arroyo instead identified a co-defendant.

Unbeknownst to the officers, the individuals who dropped off the payments were cooperating with federal law enforcement.

The case was investigated by the FBI’s San Juan Field Office. The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Menaka Kalaskar and Marquest J. Meeks of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Henwood of the District of Puerto Rico.