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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Two Ex-Police Officers Sentenced to Prison

Two ex-Miami-Dade police officers sentenced to prison
The Miami Herald by David Ovalle - January 3, 2011

Joe Losada: 24 months in prison. Daniel Fernandez: 21 months behind bars. The two former Miami-Dade police detectives learned their fates Monday as a Circuit Court judge sentenced them for their roles in the shakedown of a drug dealer in 2006. The former officers showed no emotion as Circuit Judge Yvonne Colodny announced their prison terms. Their families, after the court hearing, did. "My son dedicates his whole life to his country. He was in the military. All that means nothing,'' cried Losada's mother, Delores Losada, 71. "And the drug dealer is on the street.'' Monday's sentencing capped a much-scrutinized public corruption case whose verdict was marked by defense allegations of jury misconduct. Colodny did find minor misconduct but refused to throw out the verdict. Miami-Dade prosecutor Bill Altfield, who had asked for longer prison terms for Losada and Fernandez, said he respected Colodny's sentencing decision. "It was a well-researched decision based on the facts and the law,'' he said. Authorities said an undercover sting caught the men pocketing part of $970 in marked bills that were planted inside a North Miami-Dade house as bait at a purported crime scene in 2006. The detectives were members of Miami-Dade's Crime Suppression Team, a plainclothes unit that targeted drug dealers in the crime-plagued Northside district. A cooperating informant in the case, Pedro Soler, was a convicted drug dealer. A second informant, Rafael Rodriguez, was Soler's acquaintance.

Losada and Fernandez were convicted in September. Jurors found Losada, 37, guilty of official misconduct, aggravated assault with a firearm, misdemeanor battery and criminal mischief. Fernandez, 59, was cleared of the official misconduct charge but was convicted of burglary of an unoccupied dwelling -- for breaking back into the house where the theft took place. He was allowed out on bond until sentencing, while Losada remained in jail. Both men were acquitted of false imprisonment and grand theft. Losada's defense attorney, Richard Sharpstein, asked that his client be released on probation or house arrest after already having served five months. "The whole time Joe was a police officer, he was honest and sincere,'' Maria Milian, 59, Losada's aunt, told the judge. ``To be honest, he was getting scumbags out of the streets.'' Fernandez's wife tearily begged the judge to allow him to remain free so he can continue treatment for his long-running battle against prostate cancer. While at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center, she complained, the processed food led to drastic weight loss and ill health for her husband. "They give him bologna sandwiches. That's a death sentence for him,'' she said. Colodny told her there was no evidence Fernandez would not receive adequate treatment while in state prison, but she allowed him to postpone his surrender until Jan. 26 in order to attend two last medical appointments. Defense lawyers said they plan to appeal. One avenue would be the allegations of jury misconduct, which the lawyers raised immediately after the conviction. In post-trial proceedings, it was revealed that one juror repeatedly mentioned during deliberations that his father is an attorney, though there was no evidence he talked to his father about the case. Another juror admitted that during trial, he asked his wife to save a newspaper article she found about the detectives. He said he did not read it, or discuss the case with her. Colodny, after taking the unusual step of interviewing the jurors, ruled in November that jurors were guilty of minor misconduct but said their gaffes did not unfairly sway the verdict. The case also drew the ire of Miami-Dade's police union, the Police Benevolent Association, which blasted prosecutors and the department's internal affairs bureau over the investigation.

1 comment:

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