'Mad bomber' gets legal win
BY CAROLINE J. KEOUGH
A man accused of setting off a string of bombs in Miami in the 1970s to further his anti-Castro agenda won a technical legal victory Wednesday. An appellate court ruled he didn't violate his probation when he placed a gun to the head of his attorney -- because he was never on probation.
But Rolando Otero, 58, will continue serving a life sentence for kidnapping and robbing the attorney who represented him in an unsuccessful civil suit.
Otero was accused of planting nine bombs around Miami in two days in 1975, a spree that prompted police to dub him the ``mad bomber.'' He was acquitted on federal charges, but later convicted of one of the bombings by a state court. That blast destroyed a locker at Miami International Airport.
Otero, a participant in the Bay of Pigs invasion, was sentenced to 30 years but released in 1989.
Seven months after his release, he went to see attorney Ronald Dresnick, who had handled Otero's unsuccessful civil rights lawsuit against the county. The suit claimed Otero was mistreated during a strip search at the county jail. He showed up at Dresnick's office with a .45-caliber gun and held it to Dresnick's neck.
He accused Dresnick, who is now a Miami-Dade circuit judge, of
mishandling the case. Otero took Dresnick to a bank and forced him to withdraw
all the money in
Dresnick's account, $5,000, in cash.
Then Otero disappeared.
After five years, police found him in Indiana and brought him back to stand trial on kidnapping and robbery charges. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
He was also charged with violating his probation on the bombing conviction.
One problem: There is no record that Otero was sentenced to probation, so there's no way he could have violated it. The issue made its way to the Fourth District Court of Appeal, which ruled Wednesday that Otero was correct.
The victory will not change Otero's living conditions. He will
continue serving a life sentence.