Rapist Luis Caraballo, Who Hid Out for Seven Years in the Dominican Republic, Sentenced to Nine Years in State Prison
By Mary K. Miraglia
HACKENSACK, N.J. (May 12, 2017) — A Dominican national who was convicted of rape seven years ago and fled the country was sentenced Friday, May 12 to two concurrent terms of nine years in state prison.
Luis Caraballo was convicted by a jury of raping a woman acquaintance along with another man, Elvis Marmolejos, but disappeared the day he was to be sentenced in 2010 and fled to his native Dominican Republic.
He was apprehended and arrested by officers of the Bergen County Sheriff and the U.S. Marshall’s Service in July, 2016 and extradited to the United States.
Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Maria Rockfol told Presiding Judge Margaret Foti the day Caraballo was to be sentenced, his own mother was in court, distraught, thinking he had taken his life.
Instead, she said, Caraballo went back to his own country where he unabashedly started a new life with a woman who had no idea of his criminal conviction. He acted as stepfather to her little boy, married her and had a child with her with no concern for his new family, should he eventually be caught.
“That is a cloud over his entire life — and what does he do?” Rockfol asked. “He gets involved with another human being, he lies to her and to her son. He lies to his family — not only has he hurt that victim, he is so selfish he has not told the woman he intends to spend his life with that he is a fugitive living a lie.” Now, she said, he not only has to pay for what he did but he injures his new family in the process.
“Today he faces justice,” she said.
According to Rockfol and the rape victim’s mother, who made a statement to the court, the woman Caraballo raped was sleeping when she was attacked. She had been to a party at Caraballo’s house, had some alcohol, and fell asleep. But when Caraballo and his co defendant Marmolejos attacked her, she was not passed out, told the men “no” and tried to fight them off.
“I know my daughter was intoxicated, but she wasn’t that intoxicated,” the mother said. “She woke up and he was on top of her. She fell asleep and they did what they did. She’s not an angel, but she didn’t want that.”
He went on with his life, he got married, has a wife and child, the woman said, while her daughter still suffers, can’t hold down a job, and doesn’t want to be alone at night. She’s in a relationship but because she was raped, she is distrustful and doesn’t want to have children.
Foti said Caraballo’s sentence is not bound by retired Judge Donald Venezia’s original sentence of 5 – 10 years on each count. She said Caraballo’s crime “Clearly shocks the conscience of the court,” and was a “heinous and repulsive act.”
“I can imagine what this family has been going through, and what the victim has been going through, for a very long time,” Foti said. She said Caraballo, as a person who chose to become a fugitive rather than be sentenced, is clearly a risk for other offenses, and that there is great need to deter him and others from from similar acts by “sending a message to both the defendant and society at large.”
She said aggravating factors “substantially outweighed” mitigating factors, a hardship on his family and no prior criminal record. He was sentenced to nine years on count one and nine years concurrent, or at the same time, on count two of his conviction.
Caraballo is subject to the state No Early Release Act, meaning he’ll have to serve at least 85 percent of his sentence, or seven years, six and a half months. He has 1,239 days jail credit, which will take about three years and three months off his sentence, leaving four years and two months.
The rape Caraballo was convicted for happened in 2004 in Garfield. He was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in state prison in 2007, but that was overturned on appeal in 2009 and sent back to Superior Court for a new trial. He was convicted of sexual assault again and failed to appear for two separate sentencing hearings in March 2010.
Caraballo’s co defendant Marmolejos was sentenced in 2010 to 10 years state prison subject to 85%, and will be eligible for parole in about a year and a half.
The U.S. and the Dominican Republic have an extradition treaty, but it is much more limited than with other countries and more difficult to have defendants returned.
Picture – Prosecutor Maria Rockfol, Trial Unit; Defense Attorney Craig V. O’Connor, Defendant Luis Caraballo