Former Puerto Rico Police Officers Sentenced for Roles in Scheme to Extort a State Defendant for $50,000
|U.S. Attorney’s Office November 18, 2013|
WASHINGTON—Two former police officers with the Police of Puerto Rico were sentenced to serve 63 and 60 months in prison for attempting to extort a defendant and soliciting bribe payments of $50,000.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodriguez of the District of Puerto Rico made the announcement.
Abimael Arroyo-Cruz, 30, of Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, was convicted by a jury on May 29, 2013, of 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 all four counts on May 17, 2013, midway through his trial. Arroyo was sentenced to serve 63 months in prison, and Becerril was sentenced to serve 60 months in prison.
Arroyo and Becerril arrested eight individuals for possessing unregistered firearms and marijuana on August 2, 2012. The officers then solicited from one defendant a bribe payment of $50,000 to have his case dismissed. Beginning on September 11, 2012, both officers spoke with the defendant multiple times over the telephone, discussing payment details and strategies for dismissing the defendant’s case.
Arroyo and Becerril collected approximately $35,000 of the $50,000 demanded from the 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, Arroyo and Becerril devised a plan whereby the officers would misidentify a co-defendant in court, leading to the dismissal of the defendant’s case. When asked under oath at the preliminary hearing to identify the defendant, Arroyo instead identified a co-defendant. Arroyo confirmed to the defendant following the hearing that he deliberately misidentified the co-defendant as part of the plan to have the defendant’s case dismissed.
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.