MIAMI - A Hialeah police officer was arrested Friday on federal corruption and identity fraud charges.
Raul Castellon, 38, is charged with affecting commerce by extortion under color of official right, conspiracy to commit access device fraud, aggravated identity fraud and possession of 15 or more unauthorized access devices.
According to a federal indictment, Castellon used a confidential database to take screen shots of other people's personal identification, including driver's license and Social Security numbers, and gave them to co-defendant Neilin Diaz in exchange for gifts.
A criminal affidavit for Diaz alleges that she and other co-conspirators "would conduct fraudulent transactions at various retail stores in Florida by opening a retail store credit account in another person's name, without that person's permission, or using an existing retail store credit account belonging to another person, without that person's permission."
Castellon, who was hired by the Hialeah Police Department in 2006, entered a plea of not guilty before a federal judge in Miami. His bond was set at $50,000.
Hialeah police Sgt. Carl Zogby said Castellon has a lengthy disciplinary history that includes 13 written reprimands and four suspensions. Zogby said Castellon was fired in 2012 but was awarded his job back in 2014 after arbitration.
"He was a problematic employee from the start and his course of conduct has finally resulted in his arrest, which is very regrettable and has brought a day of disgrace to our department," Hialeah Police Chief Sergio Velazquez said.
Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association president John Rivera released a statement Monday, saying that the PBA is not representing Castellon in this case.
"While we have represented Raul Castellon in past employment matters, this case is outside the scope of his employment, therefore we are not representing him," Rivera said. "Regarding Castellon's employment history, in discipline and termination cases there are policies and procedures that cities must follow. Officers win their jobs back when cities violate these procedures and/or officers rights or have taken an unjust action against an officer. If the current allegations against Castellon are true, then his actions would be a great disappointment and an insult to the brave men and women who serve and protect our community."
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