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October 7, 2014

Former Puerto Rico Officer and Civilian Plead Guilty in July 2012 Robbery in Puerto Rico

WASHINGTON—A former Police of Puerto Rico (POPR) sergeant and a civilian have pleaded guilty for their involvement in a July 2012 robbery in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, and an additional POPR officer has pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents, announced Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez of the District of Puerto Rico.

Jorge Fernandez-Aviles, 49, a POPR sergeant, pleaded guilty today to robbery and firearms charges for his role in a July 2012 robbery in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. On Oct. 3, 2014, David Figueroa, 32, a civilian, pleaded guilty to robbery and civil rights charges for his involvement in the robbery. Alexander Mir-Hernandez, 40, a POPR officer, also pleaded guilty on Oct. 3, 2014, to one count of false statements for lying to federal agents about his role in the July 2012 robbery and to a civil rights crime for an unrelated December 2013 robbery. Sentencing for all three is scheduled for Jan. 9, 2015.

Pedro Lopez-Torres, 35, and Luis Ramos-Figueroa, 38, were each POPR officers and were charged by information on June 25, 2014, for their roles in the July 2012 robbery and other crimes. Lopez and Torres pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge José A. Fusté the same day. Fernando Reyes-Rojas, a civilian, has been indicted for robbery, drug, and firearms charges for his involvement in the July 2012 robbery. Reyes-Rojas is scheduled for trial on Nov. 3, 2014.

According to court documents, on July 14, 2012, Sergeant Fernandez-Aviles and Officers Lopez-Torres and Ramos-Figueroa, armed with their POPR weapons, went with Figueroa, Ramos-Figueroa’s cousin, to the airport, where they picked up a marked patrol car from Officer Mir before a planned home robbery. They drove the patrol car to meet Reyes-Rojas and then went together to the location of the robbery.

Upon entering the house, the officers identified themselves as police, falsely claimed they were executing a search warrant, and ordered several individuals in the garage to the ground and searched for weapons. While Figueroa watched the occupants, Sergeant Fernandez, Officer Lopez-Torres, Officer Ramos-Figueroa, and Reyes-Rojas searched the property, and Reyes-Rojas found cocaine in a shed in the backyard. A few days later, Reyes-Rojas met with Lopez-Torres and gave him money from the proceeds of the sale of the cocaine he took on the day of the robbery. Officer Lopez-Torres split the money with Sergeant Fernandez-Aviles and Officer Ramos-Figueroa.

In June 2014, Officer Mir was interviewed by Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and falsely claimed that he did not recognize a photograph of Officer Lopez-Torres; that he had not met with Officer Lopez-Torres in more than six months; and that he did not provide the patrol car that was used to commit the July 2012 robbery.

An indictment is merely an allegation, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s San Juan Division and is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Heidi Boutros Gesch of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Mariana Bauza of the District of Puerto Rico.

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