BALTIMORE (CN) — A jury convicted two Baltimore detectives on Monday evening of what has been called the country’s worst police-corruption scandal.
Once part of the city’s elite Gun Trace Task Force, former detectives Daniel Hersl, 48, and Marcus Taylor, 31, were found guilty at about 5:30 p.m. of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy and robbery.
The men were acquitted of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. While that charge carried a mandatory-minimum sentence of five years, the charges of which Hersl and Taylor were convicted could put them away for up to 60 years.
Before the jury began deliberations Thursday after a three-week trial, four former officers who worked alongside Hersl and Taylor testified that their now-disbanded plainclothes unit had gone rogue: breaking into homes, stealing cash, reselling looted narcotics and lying under oath to cover their tracks.
At least nine law-enforcement agents have been indicted to date in the investigation, but professor Doug Colbert, of the University of Maryland Law School, said this trial may be the tip of the iceberg.
“We’re not quite ready to move forward yet without learning more about how these acts have continued over a six-, seven-, eight-year period without anyone learning about the corruption,” Cobert said outside the courthouse.
“So I would expect that the investigation continues,” Colbert added.
Acting Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa noted in a statement that the department’s new anti-corruption unit “will focus, specifically, on this case and the allegations that were made, but were not part of the indictment or prosecution.”
As of December, 125 cases involving the officers were flagged by city prosecutors for dropped charges or to have convictions vacated. The public defender’s office has put the number of compromised cases in the thousands.
“Neither City Hall, BPD’s Internal Affairs, nor the State’s Attorney’s Office was able to uncover and hold accountable the officers at the heart of this criminal conspiracy,” Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, said in a statement. “Residents deserve new procedures, practices, regulations, safety valves, and training across city agencies — including the State’s Attorney’s office — to ensure that this cannot happen again.”
Along with the four who testified against Hersl and Taylor, two more have pleaded pleaded guilty in a bid to shave years off their expected sentences.
After copping to the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars in drugs, cash and jewelry, as well as overtime fraud, the officers face maximum sentences of 20 to 40 years in prison.
“I’m confident that this sordid chapter of policing culture can be closed as we work each and every day to re-establish the trust and confidence that our citizens need and deserve to have in their police officers,” Mayor Catherine Pugh said in a statement.
U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake, who presided over the trial, is set to conduct the first sentencing on Feb. 23 of former Sgt. Thomas Allers. He faces up to 20 years.
Former Sgt. Wayne Jenkins, who had been supervisor of the men’s unit, is scheduled to be sentenced in April. He faces up to 30 years. Former Detective Momodu Gondo faces up to 40 years. Former detectives Evodio Hendrix, Jemell Rayam and Maurice Ward face up to 20 years.
The ninth accused co-conspirator, former Baltimore officer Eric Troy Snell, is awaiting trial. Snell was indicted in November while working for the Philadelphia police department. He is accused of selling cocaine and heroin the rogue police officers seized from Baltimore’s streets.
Apart from law enforcement, the investigation has resulted in guilty pleas from three individuals. One of them, a former bail bondsman, was supplied drugs by Sgt. Jenkins in exchange for a share of the proceeds.
One of Taylor’s accused criminal acts included conducting a robbery of more than $100,000 while supposedly carrying out a legal search.
Hersl meanwhile was said to have stolen $20,000 from a Carroll County home where a man and his wife were detained without having committed a crime. Afterward, Hersl and other officers went to a bar to split up the money, his fellow officers testified.