NYPD Detective Rafael Astacio was found guilty of burglary, when he and several accomplices were charged with stealing $2 million dollars in cash from a plastic surgeon’s office and $3 million in glasses from an eyewear store. Amid these charges, Mr. Astacio is bringing up charges of his own and suing the NYPD for his pension benefits. It seems someone forgot to tell Mr. Astacio NYPD is also an acronym for Not Your Property, Detective.
Mr. Astacio was part of a burglary ring that was charged with stealing from local Long Island businesses and selling the merchandise online and out of state. Mr. Astacio and his counterparts are accused of multiple burglaries. If Mr. Astacio is found guilty, he will be sentenced to 17 years in prison. This crime is an ultimate betrayal of trust for a detective who was supposed to protect the public but instead, was preying on the public.
Mr. Astacio, 41, is a 20-year veteran of the force. He was coming up on his retirement when he was found guilty of the federal charges. Subsequently, the charges resulted in his suspension in which former Commissioner Raymond Kelly immediately fired him, which adversely affected his retirement date by 10 days.
Despite the charges, Mr. Astacio believes he should still be entitled to his lifelong pension of $80,000 a year, due to his tenure with the NYPD. What he is failing to realize is that when committing a crime, he has to consider the consequences. He gambled and he may have lost.
During his career, Mr. Astacio may have saved a cat from a tree, apprehended a perpetrator once or twice and wrote a few tickets. But the crimes he is accused of negates all of that. Why should he still be eligible for his pension, which is reserved for those officers who spend years committing themselves to their jobs, when he did not? Mr. Astacio wore a badge for 20 years and performed some of the duties of his position, but burglarizing businesses and betraying the public’s trust were not among his duties, so why should he receive his full pension for a role he failed?
If found guilty on the pending charges and sent to prison and he somehow wins his lawsuit, Mr. Astacio’s pension could go to his family and perhaps that can assist his prison expenses. What would $80,000 a year buy in prison? Lots of snacks, cigarettes or maybe even some stamps? Hypothetically speaking, how much would Mr. Astacio have left over once he pays for all of his attorney and court fees and potentially the fines to pay back the millions of dollars he stole? By all accounts, Mr. Astacio would not have much left, or maybe he is hoping he will be acquitted of all charges. Certainly, anyone who commits such crimes while in a position of power must have a larger-than-life complex and arrogance that makes them believe they will not get caught. But now that Mr. Astacio has been caught, maybe he believes he is clever enough to get away with it.
Charges are still pending so officially Mr. Astacio is not guilty as of yet. Although the public usually believes one is guilty until proven innocent instead of the reverse, the evidence is stacking up against him. While Mr. Astacio is awaiting trial, someone should remind him of his oath to the NYPD–Not Your Property, Detective.
Opinion by Debra Pittman