Twelfth Baltimore Police Officer Pleads Guilty in Majestic Towing Company Extortion Scheme
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 08, 2011|
BALTIMORE—Baltimore Police officer Rafael Concepcion Feliciano, Jr., age 31, of Baltimore, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit, and committing, extortion under color of official right in connection with a scheme in which brothers Hernan Alexis Moreno, age 30, of Rosedale, and Edwin Javier Mejia, age 27, of Middle River, paid Feliciano and other officers to arrange for their car repair company, Majestic, rather than a city-authorized company, to tow vehicles from accident scenes and make repairs.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein, Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III.
According to his plea agreement, in 2008, Feliciano was introduced to Moreno and Mejia by fellow officer Rodney Cintron. Feliciano knew that Cintron was being paid by Moreno to refer accident vehicles to Majestic. Feliciano and Moreno agreed that Moreno would pay Feliciano cash for each car that he referred from accident scenes to Majestic. Feliciano then began referring cars to Majestic. Feliciano, while acting as Baltimore Police Department (BPD) officers at accident scenes, would contact Moreno and Majestic for towing and repair services for vehicles even though Majestic was not an authorized tow company for the City of Baltimore. While on the scene of an accident, Feliciano would call Moreno or Mejia and provide details of the accident, including the type of car and extent of damage. Moreno or Mejia would come to the accident scene and arrange for the car to be driven or towed to Majestic. Mejia or Moreno then paid Feliciano $150 and eventually $300, for each vehicle that arrived at Majestic. From January to August, 2009, Moreno paid Feliciano in checks totaling $3,950 for vehicles that he had referred to Majestic. After August 2009, Moreno paid Feliciano in cash.
Although he never witnessed it, Feliciano also understood that Moreno and Mejia would create additional damage to certain vehicles in order to increase the vehicle insurance claims, thereby increasing the net profit for Majestic as well as covering both the cash bribe payment to Feliciano, and the payment of the vehicle owner’s deductible. Feliciano also falsified police accident reports at Moreno’s request, in exchange for money. Feliciano completed those false reports using information provided by Moreno, even though Feliciano had never been to the alleged accident scene, nor had he personally witnessed the damage cause. Feliciano would leave the reports in the mailbox at Majestic, knowing that Moreno would submit those reports to insurance companies for payment on false accident claims.
The total loss caused by Feliciano’s conduct is between $120,000 and $200,000. The exact amount of loss will be determined at sentencing.
Feliciano faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for the conspiracy, and a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,0000 or twice the amount of the gross gain or loss derived from or caused by the offense, for extortion under color of official right. U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake scheduled sentencing for March 23, 2012, at 2:00 p.m.
Moreno and Mejia pleaded guilty to the extortion conspiracy and face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison at their sentencing, which has not been scheduled. A total of 12 police officers, including Rodney Cintron, have pleaded guilty to the extortion conspiracy to date. Trial of the remaining two defendant police officers is scheduled for February 13, 2012.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the FBI and the Baltimore Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorneys Tonya N. Kelly and Kathleen O. Gavin, who are prosecuting the case.