FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A former Broward Sheriff's Office deputy accused of forcing undocumented immigrants into sex acts while on the job pleaded guilty 33 times in court Thursday morning, but the most serious charges against him have been dropped as part of a plea deal.
Jonathan Bleiweiss pleaded guilty to 14 counts of armed false imprisonment, 15 counts of battery and four counts of stalking.
"All the victims were consulted -- the ones who were interested and available -- but, at this point, after six years, it was the best and the most just and fair resolution that the state could come up with," assistant state attorney Neva Smith said.
Bleiweiss was arrested in 2009, accused of targeting undocumented immigrants using the threat of arrest and deportation. BSO investigators said Bleiweiss coerced at least a dozen men into unwanted sexual encounters while on duty.
"He was disgraceful and abused his power," then-Broward County Sheriff Al Lamberti said at a news conference announcing Bleiweiss' arrest.
The charges stem from seven of the victims, although there were at least five others, Smith said. However, the victims refused to testify, concerned about their legal status and fearful of reprisal.
"I can understand that," Smith said. "They are tired. They have been held hostage by this case for years. They have been tormented and teased in their community. They don't want their faces on camera."
Without enough victims to testify, the state was forced to drop all sexual battery charges against Bleiweiss.
"He'll get out," attorney Alvin Entin said. "He'll be able to live the rest of his life. And he'll do so without the stain of being a sexual predator."
Bleiweiss was sentenced to five years in prison, to be followed by 10 years of probation.
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