Edward Norris, a third-generation New York cop who served as Baltimore police commissioner, was sentenced yesterday to six months in federal prison for treating a Baltimore department expense account as a personal slush fund, reports the Baltimore Sun. Support from former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, a plea from Norris’ wife, and tears from Norris himself did not persuade U.S. District Judge Richard Bennett to spare Norris prison time. Norris, 43, who left Baltimore in 2002 to head the Maryland State Police, and John Stendrini, 60, Norris’ ex-chief of staff, were “stars” and “the best” of law enforcement, Bennett said. Because of that, their misuse of police funds – in the aftermath of Sept. 11, the judge pointed out – was all the more offensive.
Norris had pleaded guilty to conspiring to misuse money from the supplemental city police fund and to lying on tax returns. Prosecutors say he used the money to pay for romantic liaisons with women, and for lavish meals, hotel stays and gifts. Norris came to Baltimore in 2000 and quickly became the public face of Democratic Mayor Martin O’Malley’s pledge to reduce homicides in the city. Under his watch, the total dropped below 300 for the first time in a decade. Prosecutors say Norris also began dipping into an off-the-books, supplemental police fund, originally created as a Depression-era charity fund. Prosecutors said yesterday that they believe Norris took close to $30,000 from the account. The judge expressed disbelief that, soon after Sept. 11, 2001, Norris and Stendrini essentially blew off an International Association of Chiefs of Police convention focused on terrorism and used that time and taxpayer money for their own dalliances. “This was not the time to go off on a lark,” Bennett said.