Published: Fri, March 03, 2017
National | By Glenda Ortiz

Baltimore police officers arrested on racketeering charges

Baltimore police officers arrested on racketeering charges

Seven officers who were part of an elite unit of the Baltimore Police Department were indicted Wednesday on federal racketeering charges for allegedly robbing residents, filing false affadavits, and claiming overtime they didn't actually work.

The city and the Justice Department had reached a court-enforceable consent decree in January requiring police to make sweeping changes to its practices. The complaint alleged that some officers were depriving citizens of their rights, privileges and immunities as protected by federal law.

Rosenstein said in a statement that one of the officers faces charges in a separate drug distribution indictment.

Investigators said the crimes - some of them committed by some members of the elite Gun Trace Task Force - took place a year ago as the Department of Justice investigated the Baltimore Police Department for use of excessive force, among other violations.

In another incident, three of the officers stopped a man on the street, searched his vehicle without a warrant and later took $1,500 he had earned working as a maintenance supervisor at a nursing home.

Maryland US Attorney Rod Rosenstein announced the indictments alongside the city's Police Commissioner and FBI and DEA officials, confirming that the arrests came as the result of a year-long investigation that found the officers had entered residences unwarranted, conducted frivolous traffic stops, and detained people without cause, all with the intention of lining their own pockets.

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That action grew out of a Justice investigation of Baltimore police operations in aftermath of the April 2015 death of Freddie Gray. "These are really simply robberies by people who are wearing police uniforms".

"It is promising to see the beginning of accountability being applied to the Baltimore Police Department", Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson said. "They acted in a manner that betrayed their fellow police officers". Later FBI got involved installing electronic surveillance, including one in an officer's patrol auto. Federal authorities were listening: inside an electronically surveilled police vehicle, Rayam was recorded telling Gondo he'd only "taxed" the man "a little bit".

The officers were also charged with swearing in false affidavits to obtain search warrants in order to steal property.

The officers only submitted $15,000 as evidence, and then later went to the man's home and stole $200,000 and a $4,000 watch from a safe deposit box. One officer charged overtime to the city while on vacation in Myrtle Beach, S.C. All were arrested, suspended without pay and jailed overnight pending detention hearings Thursday.

Sometimes, the officers turned off their body cameras to avoid recording what they were up to, according to the indictment.

Family members declined to speak to comment.

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