Another former member of the Baltimore Police Department’s notorious Gun Trace Task Force has been found guilty of a serious crime in federal court. The 49-year old veteran officer, who retired earlier this year after 26 years with the BPD, is the 15th member of the task force to face charges for various felonies including robbery, falsifying police reports, theft and public corruption. This officer was never prosecuted for direct acts of public corruption related to his involvement with the task force, but he could not fully outrun his past transgressions. Federal agents were not able to bust the officer for selling cocaine that was seized during a drug bust back in 2009, but the feds got the former officer on charges for lying to federal investigators about said cocaine last year during an interview. It was an interesting turn of events for a man who thought he had avoided what 14 of his former colleagues could not.
According to facts presented at the plea, the former officer was called in by the FBI to answer questions about a major drug bust that occurred in Baltimore City back in 2009. During this bust, city police officers discovered 44 kilograms of cocaine in a pickup truck after obtaining a search warrant for the home of a suspected large-scale dealer. The bust was so large that the BPD’s SWAT team was called in to escort a police van to headquarters to lock up the cocaine in an evidence room. Apparently only 41 kilograms were entered into evidence control and 3 kilograms were left in the transport van. After being advised that the interview was voluntary and that he could be prosecuted for lying to the federal agents, the former officer proceeded to tell agents that he was unaware that anyone had taken and sold the missing 3 kilograms of cocaine. The former officer probably didn’t know it at the time, but the agents were likely working on information from a cooperating defendant that he indeed participated in the theft and sale of the missing 3 kilos. The agents likely did not give the former officer any reason to believe he was the target of their investigation, and he probably casually denied involvement without knowing he had just sealed his own fate.
The FBI obviously had insufficient evidence to prosecute the former officer back in 2009 for stealing and selling the cocaine, and likely did not even know he was part of the theft until recently. While the statute of limitations most certainly barred prosecution for his involvement in the heist (most federal criminal violations have a 5-year statute of limitations), they were able to stick him with charges for lying about his involvement 10 years later. In order to induce a guilty plea, the feds likely had reliable witnesses that were more than prepared to testify in court. These witnesses could have been other officers involved in the task force, including an officer that was found guilty for planting a BB gun in a citizens’ car in order to protect a fellow officer from prosecution. The officer convicted of the BB gun scam was one of the officers that split the proceeds of the sale of the 3 missing cocaine kilos. As part of the plea agreement the defendant in this recent case admitted that he received $20,000 for his role in selling the stolen cocaine to a confidential informant.
The Blog will continue to follow the outcome of this case and all other cases involving police and public corruption. Benjamin Herbst is a Maryland criminal defense lawyer who specializes in federal drug crimes, firearms offenses such as gun possession by a disqualified person, weapon possession in a federal facility and unlawful transfer of a firearm. Benjamin additionally specializes in public corruption charges such as misconduct in office in state and federal court, and is also an experienced Florida criminal defense lawyer. He is available for a free consultation anytime at 410-207-2598.