From the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Baltimore:
U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake sentenced Baltimore Police officer Osvaldo Valentine, age 40, of Edgewood, Maryland, today to 30 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for conspiracy to commit, and committing, extortionunder color of official right in connection with a scheme in which brothers Hernan Moreno and Edwin Mejia paid Valentine and other officers to arrange for their car repair company, Majestic, rather than a city-authorized company, to tow vehicles from accidentscenes and make repairs. Judge Blake also entered an order that Valentine pay restitution of $18,000 to the Baltimore Police Department.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein, Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Baltimore Police CommissionerFrederick H. Bealefeld III.
According to Valentine’s plea agreement, in late 2009, after being introduced to Moreno by another Baltimore Police Department (BPD) officer, and while acting in his capacity as a BPD officer at accident scenes, Valentine would contact Morenoand Majestic for towing and repair services for vehicles even though Majestic was not an authorized tow company for the City of Baltimore. In exchange, Mejia or Moreno would pay Valentine $250, and later $300, for each vehicle that arrived at Majestic.
Specifically, while on the scene of an accident, Valentine would call Moreno and provide him with the details of the accident. Valentine would persuade accident victims to allow their cars to be towed or otherwise delivered to Majestic by tellingthe victims that Majestic could tow the car, provide repair services, help with the insurance claim, assist in getting a rental car, and waive the owner’s deductible. Valentine advised accident victims that they should not call their insurance company untilafter they spoke to Moreno.
Valentine also recruited other BPD officers to participate in the extortion scheme.
From January to September 2010, Moreno and Mejia paid Valentine by check in exchange for referrals. Those checkstotaled $14,400. In September 2010, Morena and Mejia began to pay Valentine in cash.
Eight other Baltimore Police officers have been sentenced to date, to eight to 30 months in prison: Jhonn Corona, age 33, of Rosedale, and Jerry Diggs, Jr., age 25, of Baltimore, both to 30 months in prison; Rafael Concepcion Feliciano, Jr., age31, of Baltimore, to two years in prison; Henry Yambo, age 29, of Owings Mills, to 15 months in prison; Michael Cross, age 29, of Reisterstown, to 10 months in prison; and Eddie Arias, age 40, of Catonsville, David Reeping, age 42, of Arburtus, and JermaineRice, age 29, of Woodstock, all to eight months in prison.
Hernan Alexis Moreno, age 31, of Rosedale, Maryland and Edwin Javier Mejia, age 28, of Middle River, Maryland pleaded guilty to the extortion conspiracy and face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison at their sentencing, which has not been scheduled. Fourteen police officers have pleaded guilty to the extortion conspiracy in federal court and one officer pleaded guilty in state court. One officer was convicted by a federal jury after a six day trial.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the FBI and the Baltimore Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorneys Tonya N. Kelly and Kathleen O. Gavin, who prosecuted thecase.