A federal jury is scheduled to start this week where the U.S. government will prosecute a city cop charged with a variety of offenses including planting cocaine on a suspect and stealing drugs and money from local drug dealers. Raul Iglesias will appear with his Miami criminal lawyer in court on Thursday for opening statements. While federal criminal cases usually lack transparency prior to the trail, this case is a little more secretive than most. The majority of witnesses include several former Miami undercover detectives that used to work in the same unit as the defendant. The government prosecutor filed a special motion with the court seeking the that the judge restrict the disclosure of the names of witnesses, testimony provided at the grand jury, FBI reports, statements and undercover recordings. The defense attorney representing Iglesias agreed to the terms set forth in the motion.
The defendant was indicted earlier on multiple counts including conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute, obstruction of justice, making false official statements and for the violating another's civil rights. Iglesias was relieved of duty without pay in 2010 and is facing 20 years in a federal prison if a jury convicts him after hearing the evidence. The motion to keep the discovery secretive was granted in large part to prevent witness tampering and intimidation. The defense attorney in the case was provided all of the discovery, but was not permitted to discuss its contents with anyone. As the jury trial progresses all the evidence kept secret up to this point will become public.
There are many difference between state and federal criminal cases. The discovery process is far more complete in the state system. Anyone charged with a felony offense in the State of Florida is permitted to have his attorney take the depositions of the majority of witnesses expected to testify at trial. Depositions are not permitted under federal criminal system. Under the state criminal justice system, prosecutors are required to turn over all documents, statements or papers that are relevant to the case. The feds are required to turn over some, but not all of an documents or other evidence that will be introduced at trial. For example, any statements made by the defendant or co-defendants must be turned over prior to trial. Additionally, exculpatory evidence, as well as any agreements entered into by cooperating witnesses or defendants must also be turned over to the defense.
Iglesias, a City of Miami detective, was with the department for 18 years and was the head of the crime suppression unit when he was relieved of duty. The crime suppression unit's duties including the arrest and prosecution of street level drug dealers and drug traffickers. One of the former detectives in his unit was arrested and agreed to cooperate against Iglesias. The former detective scheduled to testify was caught with ten bags of cocaine and two bags of marijuana that were taken from an Allapattah business. In exchange for his cooperation, he was permitted to plead guilty to possession of a controlled substance and was sentenced to a year of probation. The indictment against Iglesias charges him with stealing or planting drugs on at least four occasions.
Miami Police Sergeant Faces Drug Trafficking Trial in Secretive Federal Case, Miami Herald.com, January 3, 2013.