TAMPA — In addition to a $260,000 settlement from the city of Tampa, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office has agreed to pay a total of $215,000 to 10 victims of a botched gang roundup.
In 2006, more than 100 officers raided the Caribbean American Club, arresting 52 on racketeering charges. Most accepted plea deals for probation.
Then in 2008, the case unraveled. Hillsborough Circuit Judge Daniel Sleet threw out charges against 23 people after learning that many of the supposed Latin King gang members were bullied into going to the meeting by Luis "Danny" Agosto, a felon turned confidential informant for the FBI and Tampa police.
The judge heard testimony that investigators did nothing to stop Agosto from threatening people to attend the meeting, stealing motorcycles, driving without a license and carrying a gun — even though he was a felon. The gang had been dormant for several months before law enforcement encouraged Agosto to revive its meetings, the judge determined.
A handful of the former suspects filed a federal lawsuit, alleging false arrest and violations of their civil rights. One man said his months in jail caused depression and the end of his marriage.