CLEVELAND — Mario Lozada, the former Cleveland police officer who pleaded guilty in July to unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, was sentenced to eight years in prison on Tuesday.
On July 24, Lozada reached a plea deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual conduct with a minor and pandering sexually oriented matter involving a minor.
During the sentencing, Lozada's father addressed the court, apologizing for his son's actions.
"The only thing I can do is get on my knees and apologize to you," said Lozada's father Ramone Lozada. "We are all sorry for this. Somewhere along the line I dropped the ball. Not sure where, but somewhere. My son is a good son. He is a good provider. He still provides me. We are not downplaying this. This is not a joke to us. We acknowledge it and accept it."
The mother of one of the victims spoke on her daughter's behalf since she is currently undergoing a treatment program.
"To be honest though, I don't feel much for you at all," said the mother, reading a letter written by her daughter to Lozada. "After thinking about this for a long time now, I would go as far as to say you are a manipulative pedophile. I am angry and disgusted with my choices, but I have been able to see the truth and know I was just a little girl. I feel used and lied to, and completely taken advantage of. Almost as if our sexual encounters were more important than my life. In a way, you were aware the money was going to heroin and knew I overdosed before and could do it again."
The mother of the second victim also spoke on behalf of her daughter.
"I just want to say that my daughter is scared of the police now," she said. "You really messed her up."
Councilman Brian Kazy read a letter on behalf of several sports organizations who have been impacted by the actions of Lozada.
"He was viewed as a trusted member of the community. These organizations trusted Lozada with their children, especially their daughters. His actions have impacted the coaches who are stand up citizens and role models of the community. His actions have taken the wind out of the sails. It’s extremely disappointing how one person’s actions impact the good of what we do," the letter read.
Kazy, who knew Lozada personally and coached against him several times, said he remembers when the news broke about Lozada.
"My daughter at one point looked up to Mr. Lozada," Kazy said. "I won't ever forget when the story broke. There were four girls having a bonfire in my backyard. They were all softball players and to watch the tears roll down their face over the actions of Mr. Lozada. I couldn't help but think what in God’s green earth is still out there. If we, your honor, as citizens and as community can't trust a police officer, or better yet, someone who portrayed himself to be so caring with our young girls, then as a society who can we trust?"
Lastly, it was Lozada's turn to address the court.
"I want to apologize to my family. I hurt them really bad. I was in charge of my family and I failed. I want to apologize to the police department. I had a really good career with them," he said.
Judge Steven E. Gall interrupted to make it a point for Lozada to face his father, who blamed himself for his son's actions.
"Turn around at least apologize to your father who is accepting the blame for your actions. That's wrong. At least turn around and apologize to your father," Gall said.
"Dad, you did nothing wrong. You were a mentor to me growing up," Lozada told his father.
Lozada then turned around to face the victim's family.
"I want to apologize to everything I have done. I should’ve known better and stop the actions that I was doing. It’s not what I wanted but I take full responsibility for it," Lozada told the victim's family.
Before handing down the sentence, Judge Gall said a few words about the tarnish Lozada's actions have left on every person in uniform.
"There are no winners here today. Everyone loses. Everyone in uniform today is taking a hit for you," Gall said.
As part of the plea agreement, Lozada is required to register as a Tier II sex offender. When he is released from prison, he will be placed on a 5-year post release supervision.