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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Officer Gets 30 Months in Prison for Extortion Scheme

Baltimore cop gets 30 months in prison for extortion scheme 
The Harford County Examiner by Richard Webster - May 14, 2012

Baltimore Police Department (BPD) officer Leonel Rodriguez, 32, of Essex, Md., was sentenced today to 30 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release in the ongoing saga of the Majestic Towing Company extortion scheme - in which brothers Hernan Moreno and Edwin Mejia paid Rodriguez and other officers to arrange for their car repair company, Majestic, rather than a city-authorized company, to tow vehicles from accident scenes and make repairs. According to the FBI: Rodriguez agreed with Moreno and Mejia that while acting as a Baltimore Police Department officer at accident scenes, Rodriguez would contact Moreno and Majestic for towing and repair services for vehicles even though Majestic was not an authorized towing company for the city of Baltimore. While on the scene of an accident, Rodriguez would call Moreno or Mejia and provide details of the accident, including the type of car and extent of damage. Moreno or Mejia would come to the accident scene and arrange for the car to be driven or towed to Majestic. Mejia or Moreno would pay Rodriguez up to $300 for each vehicle that arrived at Majestic. Between January and August 2010, Moreno paid Rodiguez in checks totaling $8,450. After August 2010, Moreno paid Rodriguez in cash. Rodriguez also recruited other Baltimore Police Department officers to participate in the scheme. To date, 9 other BPD officers have been sentenced to 8 - 30 months in prison. Rodriguez is the 10th BPD officer to be sentenced in the Majestic Towing Company extortion scheme. Rodriguez also gave his car to a mechanic who worked for Moreno to sell to a “chop shop” and falsely claimed to his insurance company that the car had been stolen. The total loss caused by Rodriguez’s conduct is at least $120,000. He was charged with conspiracy to commit, and committing, extortion under color of official right in connection with a scheme. Rodriguez was also ordered to pay restitution of $16,215 to his insurance company, and $10,000 to the Baltimore Police Department.

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