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Former Cop Takes Plea Deal For Roadside Rip Off

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - A former Miami-Dade police officer accused of using his badge and gun to help his cousin and another man steal more than $130 thousand from a gambler has taken a plea deal from prosecutors.

On Thursday, John Villar was sentenced to eight years in prison followed by three years of probation. In addition to being fined $10,000 in investigative and court costs, Villar will also give up his law enforcement credentials.

According to prosecutors, Villar and his cousin Fausto Villar conspired with Leonardo Lastre, an alleged bookie who ran his business through the website, to rob Marvin Duarte who had hit it big with a couple of bets.

On Duarte went to Lastre's place of business to collect his winnings. As Duarte left the business, the Villars followed him in an unmarked police vehicle. They then stopped him on State Road 826 just north of State Road 836.

Duarte would later tell police that John Villar, wearing a black shirt and a sweater, MDPD badge hanging from his neck, and a holstered firearm on his hip approached him on the driver's side of his SUV. Fausto Villar, wearing a bullet proof vest with the word "Police" across the front in white letters, a baseball cap, sunglasses and Taser reportedly approached Duarte's SUV from the passenger side.

Duarte said when Villar reached the driver's side window he asked for his driver's license and then demanded that Duarte hand over his cell telephone. Duarte handed over his iPhone. Villar then allegedly asked if he had any contraband in the vehicle, pointing at a bag in the back seat. When Duarte told Villar that there was money in the bag, Fausto reportedly opened the rear passenger door and grabbed it. When Duarte asked John Villar why they were taking the money, Villar allegedly replied that the money was evidence and that a narcotics canine was en route.

The Villars then got in their car and drove off.

Duarte followed and was able to get help from a Florida High Patrol (FHP) Trooper nearby. The FHP Trooper was able to locate and stop the vehicle at the NW 25th Street exit.

Trooper Matthew Mihm said as soon as he stopped his car, John Villar got out and identified himself as a police officer. At about the same time, Fausto reportedly bolted out of the passenger's side of the car and ran on foot down the exit ramp through a construction area carrying the bag full of money.

John Villar allegedly told Mihm that he had stopped Duarte for reckless driving and had left him off with a warning. Mihm said he also stated that he was alone in the car.

Villar then contacted his immediate supervisor, Sergeant Chris Manzelli, and requested that he come out to the scene because there was an allegation of missing money. Manzelli arrived a short time later and spoke with both Mihm and Duarte.

On April 29, police got a search warrant for Villar's unmarked vehicle.

The search revealed a red sweater allegedly used by Villar during the robbery. Also found was a black police bullet proof vest which fit the description of the vest used by the second person who was in the Ford when Duarte was stopped.

On May 4, police searched Villar's unmarked car again based on additional evidence and found a department issued Taser which fit the description of the one described by Duarte as being used by the second subject during the robbery.

Based on the phone records, witness statements and evidence, John Villar, Fausto Villar and Leonardo Lastre were arrested and face a number of charges including Armed Robbery, Armed Burglary and Conspiracy to Commit Armed Robbery.

Fausto Villar is expected to take a plea deal in about two weeks.

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