LAWFUEL – Law News, Law Jobs – R. Alexander Acosta, United…

LAWFUEL – Law News, Law Jobs – R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Jonathan I. Solomon, Special Agent in Charge, Federal bureau of Investigation, Miami Field Office, announced that defendant Michael Hernandez, a/k/a “Shorty,” 24, and Manuel Palacio, 28, were sentenced today for their role in the kidnaping of Jeffrey Boatwright, one of the armed robbers responsible for the November 2005 robbery of $7.4 million cash from Miami International Airport. Michael Hernandez was sentenced to 34 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $400 special assessment. Manuel Palacio was sentenced to 26 ½ years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $300 special assessment.

After a four day trial in August 2006, a jury convicted both men of conspiring to commit hostage taking, hostage taking, and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. Hernandez was also convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

The evidence at trial showed that in November 2005, Jeffrey Boatwright, his brother-in-law Karls Monzon, and others participated in the armed robbery of $7.4 million from a cash shipment arriving at Miami International Airport onboard Lufthansa Flight 462 from Frankfurt, Germany. Subsequently, in February 2006, Michael Hernandez organized a plot to kidnap Jeffrey Boatwright after he learned of Boatwright’s whereabouts through a local Miami jeweler named Robert Salty. On February 16, 2006, after Salty agreed to provide Boatwright’s location in exchange for $50,000, Hernandez recruited Manuel Palacio, Michael Sanfiel, and Guillermo Del Regato to commit the armed kidnaping of Boatwright from the parking lot of a local Miami stripclub.

On February 17, 2006, law enforcement had already identified Karls Monzon and Jeffrey Boatwright as suspects in the airport robbery. The FBI became aware of the kidnaping when they intercepted ransom calls from the kidnapers to Karls Monzon. By evening, when it became apparent that Karls Monzon intended to shoot the kidnapers, the FBI intervened by arresting Monzon, his wife Cinnamon Monzon and Brinks security guard Ornelio Diaz for their role in the airport robbery. The FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Miami-Dade Police Department continued to trace the kidnapers, eventually locating and rescuing Boatwright from the back of a car parked in the garage of the Miami Princess Hotel. At the time he was rescued, Boatwright was bound in duct tape and had a black eye.

During the rescue, agents arrested three of the kidnapers: Michael Sanfiel, Guillermo Del Regato and Manuel Palacio. Michael Hernandez escaped that evening but was later arrested after he was identified by the other participants as the ringleader of the kidnaping plot. Robert Salty also was ultimately charged separately for his role in the kidnaping plot after he turned himself in to authorities.

Hernandez and Palacio are the latest to be sentenced for their role in Boatwright’s kidnaping. In June 2006, Del Regato and Michael Sanfiel were sentenced 31 years’imprisonment and 27 years’imprisonment, respectively. Earlier this week, on October 23, 2006, Robert Salty was also sentenced for his role in the kidnaping to 7 years’ imprisonment.

In the related robbery case, to date, four defendants have pled guilty and been sentenced on robbery and firearms charges related to the airport heist: Karls Monzon has been sentenced to 17 years’ imprisonment; Ornelio Diaz to 16 years’ imprisonment; and Jeffrey Boatwright to 17 years’ imprisonment. Karl Monzon’s wife, Cinnamon Monzon, has also been sentenced to 2 years and 9 months’ imprisonment for her role as an accessory after the fact.

United States Attorney Alex Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Miami Dade Police Department for their work on the investigation. The cases have been prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Anthony Lacosta and Joseph Cooley.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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