The Justice Department announced today that a federal jury convicted former Miami-Dade Police Detective William Kostopoulos, 49, with using his law enforcement authority to violate the civil rights of two motorists as well as obstructing justice.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Thomas Wheeler of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer for the Southern District of Florida, and Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, made the announcement.
According to evidence presented during the two week trial, in 2013, Kostopoulos stopped two separate motorists in order to steal their money, in violation of the motorists’ rights under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to be free from unreasonable seizures of their property. Kostopoulos subsequently obstructed justice by making misleading statements in order to prevent the communication of information about his crimes to federal law enforcement officers.
“The defendant abused the power granted to him as a law enforcement officer to prey upon unsuspecting motorists for personal gain and then lied about his criminal actions to investigating detectives,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Thomas Wheeler of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “He violated not only the law, but also the public trust.”
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Department of Justice and the FBI stand committed to holding those who betray the public trust accountable for their criminal actions, while supporting the overwhelming majority of men and women who proudly uphold their duties to serve and protect the community as law-abiding police officers,” said U.S. Attorney Ferrer.
“This officer’s abuse of authority will not be tolerated,” said Special Agent in Charge Piro. “His actions do not represent all other law enforcement officers who are diligent, hard working professionals.”
Kostopoulos faces a statutory maximum sentence of 22 years in prison on these charges. Sentencing is scheduled for April 19 before U.S. District Court Judge Marcia G. Cooke in Miami, Florida.
This case was investigated by the FBI, with assistance from the Homestead Police Department and the Miami-Dade Police Department. The matter is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Edward N. Stamm and Tonya R. Long of the Southern District of Florida and Samantha Trepel of the Civil Rights Division.