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Two Baltimore detectives plead guilty in racketeering case

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(CNN)Two former Baltimore police officers pleaded guilty Friday to federal racketeering charges, admitting that they committed armed robberies, made fraudulent overtime claims and filed false affidavits.

Detectives Maurice Ward and Evodio Hendrix were among seven Baltimore officers indicted in March as part of an alleged conspiracy involving those and other crimes. The seven officers, members of Baltimore’s Gun Trace Task Force, were accused of stopping people — some of whom were not suspected of any crimes — seizing their money, and pocketing it.
In one instance, Hendrix and Ward, allegedly with another officer, stole $17,000 in cash from a suspect’s house following a SWAT raid.
    In another instance, several officers stopped a nursing home maintenance supervisor and stole $1,500 that he was planning to use to pay his rent, according to the indictment.
    The stolen amounts range from $200 to $200,000, authorities said.
    “These are really robberies by people who are wearing police uniforms,” said then-Maryland US Attorney Rod Rosenstein in March.
    Attorneys for Ward and Hendrix did not respond to requests for comment on Friday. A spokesperson for the Baltimore Police Department said the men are no longer employed with the department.
    The other five officers included in the indictment are awaiting trial, scheduled for January 2018.
    The indictment said the seven officers schemed to steal money, property and narcotics by detaining people, entering residences, conducting traffic stops and swearing out false search warrant affidavits.
    The investigation began a year ago and included electronic surveillance of the officers.
    Hendrix and Ward committed “large-scale time and attendance fraud,” according to prosecutors, a charged leveled at their five co-defendants as well.
    In one instance, Ward, Hendrix and another officer were paid for two days of work while on vacation in the Dominican Republic, according to the indictment.
    Two of the officers were heard on a phone call boasting about their colleagues, including Hendrix and Ward, committing overtime fraud for “a whole year” and making “at least $8,000 to $10,000 a month,” the indictment states.
    “These are 1930’s style gangsters as far as I’m concerned,” Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said in February. “This is a punch in the gut for the Baltimore Police Department.”
    The pleas come as the State’s Attorney’s office reviews about 100 cases in a separate investigation sparked by body camera footage allegedly showing a Baltimore police officer planting evidence at the scene of a January drug arrest.
    It is also about seven months after the Justice Department, under former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and the city of Baltimore announced a consent decree mandating police reforms in Baltimore.
    That followed a DOJ report which said unconstitutional practices by some of Baltimore’s officers lead to a disproportionate rates of stops, searches and arrests of black residents, and excessive use of force against juveniles and those with mental health disabilities.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/21/us/baltimore-police-guilty-pleas/index.html

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