Former Puerto Rico Police Officers Charged with Extorting a Commonwealth Defendant for $50,000
|U.S. Department of Justice November 29, 2012|
WASHINGTON—Two former police officers with the Police of Puerto Rico were charged with allegedly attempting to extort a commonwealth defendant and soliciting bribe payments of $50,000, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division announced today.
Abimael Arroyo-Cruz, 30, of Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, and Josue Becerril-Ramos, 36, of Carolina, Puerto Rico, were both charged in an indictment returned yesterday in the District of Puerto Rico with one count of conspiracy, one count of federal programs bribery, one count of conspiracy to commit extortion, and one count of attempted extortion.
According to the indictment, Arroyo and Becerril arrested eight individuals for possession of unregistered firearms and marijuana on August 2, 2012. The officers then allegedly solicited from one defendant a bribe payment of $50,000 to have his case dismissed. Beginning on September 11, 2012, both officers allegedly spoke with the commonwealth defendant multiple times over the telephone, discussing payment details and strategies for dismissing the commonwealth defendant’s case.
The indictment alleges that Arroyo and Becerril collected approximately $35,000, of the $50,000 demanded, from the commonwealth defendant in two different payment installments. Unbeknownst to the officers, however, the individuals who dropped off the payments were cooperating with federal law enforcement.
In exchange for the bribes, the indictment alleges, Arroyo and Becerril devised a plan whereby the officers would misidentify a co-defendant in court, leading to dismissal of the commonwealth defendant’s case. According to the indictment, when asked under oath at the preliminary hearing to identify the commonwealth defendant, Arroyo instead identified a co-defendant. The indictment alleges that Arroyo confirmed to the commonwealth defendant following the hearing that he deliberately misidentified the co-defendant as part of the plan to have the commonwealth defendant’s case dismissed.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Henwood of the District of Puerto Rico and Trial Attorneys Menaka Kalaskar and Marquest J. Meeks of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section. The case was investigated by the FBI’s San Juan Field Office.
An indictment is merely an allegation, and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.