Three D.C. officers charged with attempting to receive stolen goods
Wednesday, March 9, 2011; 10:43 PM
One D.C. police officer was captured on video paying $250 for a stolen 22-inch television and loading it into the trunk of his cruiser. Another offered to sell two stolen iPads that he had bought, and a third called an informant and asked him to pick up four iPhones during a burglary.
Those allegations against the three officers were outlined in police documents filed Wednesday in D.C. Superior Court. Prosecutors charged each officer with one misdemeanor count of attempted receipt of stolen property as part of an undercover sting orchestrated by D.C. police and the FBI.
The officers, Guillermo Ortiz, Silvestre Bonilla and Dioni Fernandez, made their initial court appearances Wednesday.
It was the second time in three days that D.C. police officers stood in Superior Court with their ankles and wrists shackled. Officer Jennifer N. Green, 28, was charged Monday with accepting money that she thought had been stolen. All four officers are assigned to the 4th District in the Brightwood area of Northwest Washington.
Since January, D.C. police internal-affairs investigators and the FBI have been looking into cases of city officers receiving stolen property, according to the charging documents filed Wednesday. The investigation was prompted by an unnamed "cooperating witness," who said officers were paying cash for stolen items.
The charging documents outlined the allegations against each officer. Ortiz, 31, who has been on the force eight years, met with the confidential informant on Jan. 24 in the 1400 block of Quincy Street NW and allegedly purchased one iPhone and a 22-inch TV for $250. The items were valued at $820. Video captured Ortiz removing the TV from the informant's vehicle and putting it in the trunk of his cruiser, the documents say.
Four days later, Oritz asked the informant if he could get a few gold rings, gold watches, gold necklaces and two 42-inch flat-panel TVs, the documents say. On Feb. 16, the informant told Ortiz that the TVs were being stolen in Montgomery County. The next day, Ortiz asked the informant to bring the merchandise to his apartment, and he paid $150 for the two TVs, valued at $1,200, the documents say.
On Feb. 23, Fernandez, 36, who has been on the force seven years, arranged to purchase a $500 iPad from the informant for $150, prosecutors allege. Fernandez also allegedly called the informant and offered to resell two other iPads.
On Jan. 12, the informant told the third officer, Bonilla, that his nephew worked at an Apple Store and had stolen several items. Bonilla, 31, who has been on the force six years, bought "several" iPod Nanos, valued at $820, for $200, the documents say. He was videotaped leaving a restaurant in his uniform, carrying an Apple Store bag, the court papers say. Four days later, he bought an iPhone for $160, police say in the papers.
Then on Feb. 16, in a recorded call, Bonilla told the informant he needed four more iPhones. The informant told him to wait. "We are in the store, and we are rushing around. Remember, this is a robbery, so chill," he told the officer. Bonilla allegedly told the informant that two or three phones would be "okay" but four would be "much better."
At the hearings, the three officers pleaded not guilty and were released until their next court dates. The judge also ordered them to surrender their firearms.