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Clarens Desrouleaux

Other Miami-Dade Exonerations
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Clarens Desrouleaux was arrested on January 23, 2013 and charged with three burglaries that had happened about two weeks earlier in Biscayne Park, Florida, a suburb of Miami. Police had said they focused on him after he was found to have forged and cashed a check stolen from one of the houses.

There was no evidence linking him to the other two houses, but officers falsified an arrest affidavit and arrested Desrouleaux, a 35-year-old native of Haiti who had permanent resident status in the United States. He was interrogated, and the officers said he confessed to the three burglaries. The confession was neither written down nor recorded, but the officers would give sworn depositions confirming Desrouleaux’s confession.

Desrouleaux had previous convictions for drug-dealing and other non-violent crimes. If convicted at trial, he faced being sentenced as a habitual felon and serving 30 years in prison. Instead of taking that risk, he pleaded guilty on May 23, 2013 to three counts of burglary and three counts of grand theft. He was sentenced to five years in prison. He served four years and was released in 2017, then quickly deported to Haiti.

In 2014, Biscayne Park began investigating its police force, after the town manager received a series of anonymous letters complaining about the tactics of Police Chief Raimundo Atesiano. The investigation revealed that the chief told his officers to make false arrests in order to improve the department’s closure rate. A few months after Desrouleaux’s arrest, Atesiano had boasted to the town council that there were no unsolved property crimes in Biscayne Park.

Atesiano and three other police officers were indicted in 2018 and charged with violating the civil rights of Desrouleaux and two other men who had also been falsely arrested. Unlike Desrouleaux, the other two men had their charges dropped before trial. After pleading guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, each officer received a prison sentence. Atesiano received the longest sentence, three years in prison.

“Will somebody please explain to me how Mr. Desrouleaux gets five years, but the guy who framed him for those crimes that he never committed gets less of a sentence?” asked Carlos Martinez, Miami-Dade County’s public defender.

Desrouleaux’s charges were dismissed by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office on August 10, 2018. On September 18, 2018, Desrouleaux filed suit in U.S. District Court in Miami against Biscayne Park, Atesiano, and the two officers involved with his arrest. Since being deported, he has been unable to return to the United States.

– Ken Otterbourg

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Posting Date: 12/10/2018
State:Florida
County:Miami-Dade
Most Serious Crime:Burglary/Unlawful Entry
Additional Convictions:Theft
Reported Crime Date:2013
Convicted:2013
Exonerated:2018
Sentence:5 years
Race:Black
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:35
Contributing Factors:False Confession, Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No