Miami police officer Jose Acosta, 24, stole $8,000 in cash from citizens he pulled over in traffic stops.
But his scheme was derailed when he stole $940 from an undercover officer in a sting operation set up by internal affairs.
Acosta pleaded guilty to 10 counts of burglary, 10 counts of false imprisonment, eight counts of grand theft and two counts of petit theft.
And he was sentenced Thursday to six years in prison and ordered to pay full restitution to his victims The Miami Herald reports.
Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina said:
"He’d [Acosta] conduct a traffic stop and steal money and items from unsuspecting motorists. It’s appropriate that there’s a serious penalty. Not only did he take from people, but he did it under the color of the law.”
In February 2017, Miami police began receiving complaints from people who had been pulled over by Acosta claiming money went missing during the traffic stop, sparking an investigation by Miami police and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
One night in Wynwood, Miami police set up a sting investigation and watched Acosta make stops without probable cause. The stops he made were never phoned in to dispatch. He also did not write any tickets for these traffic stops.
Acosta would make the drivers exit the vehicle and then during the searches, Acosta would take random cash from inside the car.
Acosta stopped one driver with $1,250 cash in his wallet and pockets. Acosta appropriated $940 during a pat down. The driver, however, was an undercover cop and Acosta held marked bills.
Acosta never reported the money to Miami police. As Acosta was driving home after his shift, police pulled him over and arrested him.
Once placed under arrest, Acosta admitted to stealing $6,000 over the last two months, including another $2,000 from within the same week of his arrest.
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle says:
“Jose Acosta was a corrupt opportunist who used his police uniform as a weapon to steal from people he knew would never contact law enforcement. He targeted them as he pretended to be protecting the community. Now he will serve hard time.”
Acosta was hired May 24, 2016, and fired in March 2017.
There were no red flags on Acosta's polygraph exams, psychological evaluations or background check.