Baltimore Police Officer Sentenced to 30 Months in Prison in Majestic Towing Company Extortion Scheme
BALTIMORE—United States District Judge Catherine C Blake sentenced Baltimore Police Officer Jhonn Corona, age 33, of Rosedale, Maryland, today to 30 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for conspiracy to commit, and committing, extortion under color of official right in connection with a scheme in which brothers Hernan Moreno and Edwin Mejia paid Corona 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. Judge Blake also entered an order that Corona pay restitution of $10,743.75 to GEICO and Nationwide and $10,000 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 Commissioner Frederick H Bealefeld, III.
According to Corona’s plea agreement, beginning in 2008, while acting in his capacity as a Baltimore Police Department (BPD) officer at accident scenes, Corona would contact Moreno and 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 Corona $150, and later $300, for each vehicle that arrived at Majestic.
Specifically, while on the scene of an accident, Corona would call Moreno and provide him with the details of the accident. Corona would persuade accident victims to allow their cars to be towed or otherwise delivered to Majestic by telling the 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.
Corona advised accident victims that they should not call their insurance company until after they spoke to Moreno.
Corona also understood and agreed that Moreno and Mejia would create additional damage to certain vehicles in order to increase the vehicle insurance claims, thereby increasing the net profit for Majestic as well as covering both the cash bribe payment to Corona and the payment of the vehicle owner’s deductible.
On about July 30, 2010, Corona and Moreno agreed that they would inflict damage upon Corona’s personal vehicle so that Corona could make a claim with his insurance company. Moreno and Corona intentionally drove the car into a pole, causing damage to the right side of the vehicle. Corona then contacted his insurance company and falsely claimed that the car had been damaged in a hit and run accident. On August 2, 2010, in a recorded interview with a representative of the insurance company, Corona falsely stated that he had called the police from the alleged accident scene, that an officer had responded, but that he did not know the officer’s name nor did the officer prepare a police report.
Moreno prepared a false tow receipt in the amount of $250, claiming that Mario’s Towing had towed Corona’s car to Majestic, when, in fact, the car was not towed. After inspection, the insurance company declared Corona’s car to be a total loss and paid Corona $3,238.57 for the vehicle.
From at least early 2008 until February 2011, Moreno and Mejia paid Corona in cash for vehicles that he had referred to Majestic. Those payments, plus insurance claims paid by the insurance companies for additional damages that Moreno and others inflicted upon accident vehicles, caused a total loss of at least $120,000.
Six other Baltimore Police officers have been sentenced to date to eight to 30 months in prison: Jerry Diggs, Jr, age 25, of Baltimore, to 30 months in prison; Rafael Concepcion Feliciano, Jr, age 31, of Baltimore, Maryland, to two years in prison; David Reeping, age 42, of Arburtus, Maryland, to eight months in prison; Michael Cross, age 29, of Reisterstown, Maryland, to 10 months in prison; Henry Yambo, age 29, of Owings Mills, Maryland, to 15 months in prison; and Jermaine Rice, age 29, of Woodstock, Maryland, 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 the case.
Published on: 2012-04-17
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