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A former U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer was sentenced this week to 33 months in prison for groping the breasts of three women at Miami International Airport, authorities said.
Paulo Morales, 48, of Miami pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor counts of deprivation of rights under color of law after admitting that he groped the women without their consent while they were in the CBP’s custody in January 2011, according to the U.S. Justice Department.
In addition to serving prison time, Morales will also have one year of supervised release. U.S. District Judge Robin Rosenbaum sentenced him Thursday.
“My office and the Department of Justice are fully committed to protecting the civil rights of our citizens from all types of abuses,” said Wifredo Ferrer, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, in a statement. “In this case, the harm to the victims and the general public cut deep because it came at the very hands of someone who was sworn to serve and protect the public, and instead breached that trust.”
Morales “abandoned his commitment to legitimate law enforcement and used his power to abuse women in his custody,” said Thomas Perez, the assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division.
The case was investigated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Office of Professional Responsibility and Customs and Border Protection Internal Affairs and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney William White and trial attorney Henry Leventis of the Civil Rights Division, the Justice Department said.