The Baltimore Police Department’s gun-crime unit had a busy year in 2016. Its seven officers were involved in hundreds of criminal cases. Federal prosecutors said yesterday that the members of the Gun Trace Task Force were also busy conducting their own criminal enterprise: stealing cash from innocent people and suspects alike, and bilking taxpayers by filing fraudulent overtime claims, reports the Baltimore Sun. A grand jury indicted the officers on federal racketeering charges. They have been taken into custody pending court appearances.
Now many of the felony gun cases the officers helped build might be in legal jeopardy, threatening the progress police commanders have claimed against illegal weapons during a historic spike in violent crime. The indictment “will have pervasive implications on numerous active investigations and pending cases in our office,” said Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby. Veteran defense attorney Gerard Martin predicted “a mess at the state’s attorney’s office,” saying, “They’re going to have to review every case these officers were involved in.” Others cautioned against rushing to judgment against the officers, and said many cases with other evidence beyond their testimony will not unravel. The impact was immediately visible yesterday, as Mosby’s office dropped a case that involved some of the officers.