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Hialeah Police Officer Raul Castellon Arrested on Federal Corruption and Identity Theft Charges

Raul-Castellon-252x300Hialeah police officer Raul Castellon was arrested on March 17 for allegedly using a confidential police database to take screen shots of people’s personal IDs, including Social Security numbers and driver’s licenses, and sharing them with Neilin Diaz in exchange for gifts.

Castellon, 38, faces charges for aggravated identity fraud, possession of unauthorized access devices, conspiracy to commit access fraud, and affecting commerce by extortion under color of official right.

He is being held in Miami on $50,000 bond and has reportedly entered a not guilty plea before a federal judge. News sources have not named an attorney for Castellon.

According to the federal indictment, Castellon allegedly provided Diaz with people’s personal identification information. Diaz and her co-conspirators would reportedly use that information to fraudulently open store credit account in retail stores in south Florida without consent. They used the credit accounts to conduct fraudulent transactions.

Castellon was hired by the Hialeah Police Department in 2006. According to Carl Zogby, a sergeant with the Hialeah Police Department, Castellon had a long history of disciplinary actions that includes 13 written reprimands and four suspensions. He had reportedly been fired in 2012 and was given his job back two years later after arbitration.

Hialiah Police Chief Sergio Velazquez told the press that Castellon had been a “problematic employee from the start” and that his course of conduct had “finally resulted in his arrest.” The police chief said Castellon’s arrest had brought a “day of disgrace for our department.”

Castellon won’t be represented by the Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association in this case. John Rivera, the president of the association, released a statement on Monday saying that this case is “outside the scope of [Castellon’s] employment.”

This is the second story about criminal activity involving law enforcement that was reported this week. Retired Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputy Robert Simeone was arrested on March 21 for allegedly paying illegal kickbacks to sober home owners who lured insured recovering addicts to his drug treatment facility in West Palm Beach.

Simeone, 46, worked for a decade as a sheriff’s deputy before he retired. The former pilot and Navy veteran is being charged with 15 counts of patient brokering. It is unclear if he has acquired legal representation.

According to the arrest report, Simeone was listed as the CEO of Epiphany’s Treatment Center in West Palm Beach in 2016. The treatment center also has locations in Boca Raton and Delray Beach. Investigators reportedly started looking into Simeone’s business after receiving a tip earlier this year from an unrelated case.

The investigation revealed that Simeone had paid at least two sober home owners in exchange for insured patients. One sober home owner allegedly received almost $2,000 from Simeone last year after sending patients to his treatment facilities.

Treatment facility operators in south Florida reportedly make millions of dollars every year by charging insurance companies for unnecessary drug screens and tests. Sources say the addiction treatment industry in Palm Beach County is the county’s fourth largest, bringing in $1 billion a year. Providing kickbacks in exchange for patient referrals is a third-degree felony with a penalty of up to five years in prison.

Sources: 3.20.17 Castello Federal Corruption.pdf and 3.21.17 Simeone Patient Brokering.pdf