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Police plot to frame suspects is laid bare

The story of Raimundo Atesiano is similar to events we have seen unfold here in Chicago and in many other places around the nation.

Atesiano recently told a federal judge that as a law enforcement officer, he felt pressure to produce arrests that resulted in convictions. If he did that, he knew that promotions and raises would follow. So he devised a plan to boost the arrest statistics vital to advancement of his career: he would frame African Americans for crimes they did not commit.

NPR Illinois reports that Atesiano was the newly hired police chief of Biscayne Park, Florida, when he hatched his plan and got three other officers to help him execute it. Together, they arrested three suspects for residential and vehicle burglaries that had been plaguing the village of about 3,000 residents. All three suspects are black.

The officers tried to pin four residential burglaries on a 16-year-old boy, and two others on an adult male, as well as five vehicle burglaries on another man.

When allegations surfaced that the arrests were not legitimate, the chief adamantly denied them. But when he recently faced a federal judge in a sentencing hearing, he acknowledged his failed plot.

"I made some very, very bad decisions," he said in court before the judge sentenced him to three years in a federal prison for his crimes. Back in September, Atesiano acknowledged in court documents that he had ordered officers to make arrests without evidence or any other legal basis.

NPR Illinois reports that the officers who participated in the scheme face punishment as well. One of the officers arrested suspects "despite knowing that no evidence existed linking either of the victims to the two crimes."

If you have had your civil rights violated by police or prosecutors, contact a Chicago criminal defense attorney experienced in protecting rights and freedom in the fight for justice.

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Darryl A. Goldberg
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