STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Former Baltimore officers convicted in corruption trial

A federal jury on Monday convicted two former members of a defunct Baltimore police gun task force in a corruption tr...

Posted: Feb 13, 2018 10:15 AM
Updated: Feb 13, 2018 10:15 AM

A federal jury on Monday convicted two former members of a defunct Baltimore police gun task force in a corruption trial, prosecutors said.

Former detectives Daniel Hersl and Marcus Taylor were convicted of racketeering conspiracy, racketeering and Hobbs Act robbery charges, said Elizabeth Morse, spokeswoman for the US attorney's Office in Maryland.

The two were both acquitted of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, according to Morse. Each faces up to 60 years in prison.

Hersl and Taylor were members of the Baltimore Police Department's now-defunct Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF). Federal prosecutors said they used their authority to rob suspects of drugs and money. The officers had plead not guilty.

Six other Baltimore police officers have pled guilty to similar charges.

"Baltimore is in need of significant reforms within our criminal justice system and we must collectively strengthen our efforts to regain public trust," Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby said in a statement after the verdict.

Hersl, Taylor and the other officers carried out brazen crimes at a time of strained community relations, following the April 2015 death of Freddie Gray while in police custody. Under the cover of their badges, the officers sold seized guns and drugs on the streets, ripped off narcotics dealers and locked up innocent people.

Amid soaring crime and distrust in law enforcement, the unit played "both cops and robbers," said lead federal prosecutor Leo Wise.

"They were supposed to be sentinels guarding this city from people who break the law," Wise told the jury in closing arguments last week, CNN affiliate WBAL-TV reported. "Instead, they became hunters."

Four of the officers who pled guilty testified against their former colleagues, along with drug dealers who struck deals for more lenient sentences.

Jenifer Wicks, Taylor's attorney, had accused the government of building a conspiracy case with witnesses plucked from "the depths of the criminal underworld," according to WBAL-TV.

Hersl's attorney, William Purpura, argued that his client was a latecomer to the gun task force, making him less culpable than his colleagues, the station reported.

Testimony and evidence presented during the trial brought to light shocking criminality that continued even as US Justice Department civil rights lawyers investigated Baltimore's Police Department.

The case has shone a light on deeply rooted problems known to Baltimore residents for years, said Vanita Gupta, who headed the DOJ's civil rights division when the city agreed to a consent decree on sweeping police reforms.

"When there is misconduct, there must be accountability," said Gupta, now president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

"That is why this trial in Baltimore is so critical -- not just for what it reveals in and of itself, but also for showing the public that misconduct does not go unchecked."

Here are examples of the startling stories of corruption to emerge from the trial:

'Looked like somebody that needed to be robbed'

In September 2016, Hersl, Taylor and three other officers allegedly robbed Sergio Summerville, a small-time drug dealer who kept his stash at a storage unit downtown.

Hersl "came at me like a gang," Summerville testified, according to WBAL-TV. "He wanted to meet me every week, like some kind of extortion, to know who I was dealing with and to give him money."

Summerville said the detectives stole drugs and $2,400 he had stuffed in a sock.

An employee at the storage facility testified that Hersl and his supervisor, who has pleaded guilty, demanded to see a surveillance video of the encounter, the station reported.

The employee said that, when he demanded a search warrant, one officer told him he "looked like somebody that needed to be robbed."

Officers allegedly split $100,000 taken from a safe

Convicted task force members testified that they stole the house keys of a man named Oreese Stevenson in March 2016, The Baltimore Sun reported. They said they entered Stevenson's Baltimore home without a warrant and broke open a safe.

They counted $200,000 in cash, stole half the money and then put the rest of the cash back in the safe, the officers said.

One of them shot a video showing the officers pretending to open the safe for the first time after they had already pocketed half the money, they testified, according to the newspaper. Cocaine, an expensive watch and designer clothes were also taken from the home.

Taylor is accused of participating in that theft, according to the criminal complaint.

A grappling hook, a sledgehammer, a machete and masks

A former detective testified that Gun Trace Task Force Sgt. Wayne Jenkins once showed squad members a grappling hook with a rope, sledgehammer, machete, masks and other items he kept in his patrol car while on duty. The items were shown to the jury. Jenkins previously pled guilty to multiple charges.

Evodio Hendrix, who pled guilty to charges, testified that the sergeant "had all that stuff in the car in case he ran into a monster, someone with a lot of money and drugs," WBAL-TV reported.

"To arrest them?" a prosecutor asked.

"He was talking about robbing them," Hendrix replied.

In one home, detectives stole $25,000

A man named Ronald Hamilton testified that his car was stopped in 2016 by task force members, the station reported.

Hamilton said one of the officers knew he had won money gambling at a casino.

Prosecutors tried to show that squad members targeted casinos for people to rob.

Hamilton testified that Hersl and three other officers later searched his home and walked out with at least $25,000 in cash. Taylor was not involved in that incident, according to the criminal complaint.

BB guns, 'door pops' and 'slash days'

Another convicted former detective, Maurice Ward, testified that some officers in the task force kept BB guns in their vehicles in case they needed to plant them on suspects, according to WBAL-TV.

Ward said that when the squad was out on patrol, Jenkins would drive quickly toward a group of people, and the other officers would pop the doors open and chase those who took off running, according to the station. The suspects, sometimes as many as 50 per night, were robbed of drugs and money.

Unit members were given paid time off that wasn't on the books in return for getting guns off the street, Ward said, according to WBAL-TV. Jenkins would also give overtime pay as a reward for gun seizures, former detectives testified. The former sergeant admitted to the practice earlier this year.

Hersl and Taylor were charged with participating in the overtime fraud scheme.

Trash bags full of looted pills

Bail bondsman Donald Stepp testified that Jenkins delivered to his Baltimore County home two trash bags full of pharmaceutical drugs stolen from looters during the April 2015 riots that followed the death of Freddie Gray, according to WBAL-TV.

Stolen drugs were regularly delivered to Stepp's home, he said, where they were stashed before being resold on the street.

Stepp testified that the sergeant told him he simply waited and ripped off looters leaving shuttered pharmacies with stolen drugs.

"I've got an entire pharmacy," the sergeant told Stepp.

Stepp testified that Hersl shared in the proceeds from the drug sales, WBAL-TV reported, and alleged that Taylor participated in the theft of 30 pounds of marijuana.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 111322

Reported Deaths: 3202
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7796173
DeSoto670178
Harrison484483
Jackson435081
Rankin383786
Madison373993
Lee344979
Forrest296377
Jones283782
Washington252197
Lafayette242642
Lauderdale2376131
Lamar217138
Bolivar198377
Oktibbeha195854
Neshoba1814111
Lowndes174962
Panola166337
Leflore160787
Sunflower157649
Warren152755
Monroe145972
Pontotoc143819
Pike137256
Lincoln135555
Copiah135036
Marshall134826
Scott123829
Coahoma123436
Grenada120038
Yazoo119333
Simpson118649
Union115225
Holmes113560
Leake113340
Tate113239
Itawamba110424
Pearl River108958
Adams104343
Prentiss102619
Wayne98721
Alcorn96012
George93917
Marion92942
Covington92525
Tippah85921
Newton84427
Chickasaw82625
Winston82221
Tallahatchie81825
Tishomingo79341
Hancock78127
Attala77626
Clarke72349
Clay67621
Jasper67417
Walthall63327
Calhoun61412
Noxubee59617
Smith58316
Claiborne53216
Montgomery52923
Tunica52217
Lawrence49914
Yalobusha49314
Perry48122
Carroll46312
Greene45518
Stone45014
Amite41713
Quitman4146
Humphreys41216
Jefferson Davis39811
Webster36613
Wilkinson33020
Kemper32015
Benton3154
Sharkey27814
Jefferson27010
Franklin2373
Choctaw2036
Issaquena1063
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 153016

Reported Deaths: 2633
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson22563372
Mobile14335314
Tuscaloosa10023133
Montgomery9759196
Madison904893
Shelby709960
Lee644966
Baldwin640569
Marshall428248
Calhoun412759
Etowah405749
Morgan396833
Houston364632
DeKalb319628
Elmore310752
St. Clair282142
Limestone270828
Walker268892
Talladega258435
Cullman227623
Lauderdale208740
Autauga201029
Jackson200915
Franklin199731
Colbert192228
Russell19053
Dallas185627
Blount184824
Chilton181731
Escambia171328
Coffee16669
Covington166029
Dale163451
Pike130512
Chambers130143
Tallapoosa128686
Clarke127117
Marion104729
Butler99840
Barbour9889
Marengo97221
Winston90413
Geneva8417
Pickens80517
Lawrence80031
Randolph79814
Bibb79114
Hale74529
Cherokee72214
Clay71912
Lowndes70127
Henry6376
Bullock63517
Monroe6319
Washington62212
Crenshaw59330
Perry5806
Wilcox55912
Conecuh55713
Fayette55312
Cleburne5287
Macon52820
Sumter46721
Lamar4565
Choctaw38712
Greene33916
Coosa1973
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
62° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 62°
Columbus
Few Clouds
62° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 62°
Oxford
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 63°
Starkville
Overcast
59° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 59°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather