November 20 2014

– A Holiday man faces sexual battery and other charges after he invited prostitutes into his vehicle, claimed he was a law enforcement officer, then raped them, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office reported.

Jose Hernaldo Matos Estrada, 42, of 3248 Holiday Lake Drive, was arrested Wednesday after one of the prostitutes provided a license plate number that helped investigators track him down, the sheriff’s office reported.

“We are very happy to get this sick individual off our streets,” Sheriff Chris Nocco said.

Estrada faces three counts of sexual battery, three counts of false imprisonment, one count of attempted false imprisonment and four counts of impersonating an officer.

On at least four occasions, Estrada picked up prostitutes on U.S. 19, drove to a remote area such as a county park, and flashed a badge before sexually assaulting all but one of the women, sheriff’s officials said.

Three of the cases happened late last year in October, November and December, leading the sheriff to hold a press conference in late December to seek the public’s help in finding a suspect.

Around that time, Estrada moved to Dade City, Nocco said, and no more attacks were reported. Then in September he moved back to Holiday and this week there was a fourth case, Nocco said.

Investigators suspect there could have been more assaults, especially during the time Estrada lived in Dade City. They once again are asking anyone with information to come forward, Nocco said.

He said Estrada may have targeted prostitutes purposely because they would be less likely to report the assaults to law enforcement.

“It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done in your life,” Nocco said. “Nobody ever deserves to be brutally raped. Nobody ever deserves to be dehumanized.”

The badge Estrada reportedly used was a bail bondsman badge and Estrada told a detective that he worked as a bail bondsman in New York, Nocco said. There is no record that Estrada ever worked as a law enforcement officer, the sheriff said.

Detective Dan Toner said Estrada used a series of vehicles during the crimes, including a red pickup, a black pickup, a red four-door Toyota and possibly a Chevrolet Blazer.

In the case in November 2013, the woman escaped before being sexually assaulted, Toner said. She told investigators that other prostitutes had warned her that a Hispanic man had been posing as a police officer and attacking prostitutes on U.S. 19, so when he showed the badge she realized what was happening, the detective said.

The attack this week that led to Estrada’s arrest began about 5 p.m. Tuesday when he picked up a prostitute on U.S. 19 and drove her to a county park at the end of Green Key Road, an arrest report said.

He showed her the badge and she thought she would be arrested, but then hugged her and said he was a “dirty cop,” the report said. She feared for her safety and tried to run away, but he tackled her and carried her back to the pickup where he sexually assaulted her, the report said. When he drove away, she was able to get enough information from the tag number to help find Estrada, the report said.

– Ronnie Blair


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