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Prosecutors continue to investigate Baltimore's ex-police chief De Sousa, federal subpoenas show

Federal prosecutors who have filed tax charges against Darryl De Sousa also issued grand jury subpoenas to the city’s finance and police departments seeking a decade’s worth of information about the former commissioner’s pay, travel, second jobs and taxes.

The move, several former federal prosecutors said, suggests that the investigation may be expanding beyond the initial tax charges against De Sousa. It also corroborates language in the earlier motion to seal those charges that he’s being investigated for “additional violations of federal criminal law.”

A copy of the subpoenas, issued last week, were obtained by The Baltimore Sun through a Public Information Act request.

De Sousa was charged last week with three misdemeanor counts of failing to file federal tax returns for three years. The subpoenas show prosecutors and a grand jury continue to investigate the case even after those charges were filed.

De Sousa resigned Tuesday. His attorney could not be reached for comment.

The first subpoena was issued to the police department last Wednesday, the day after federal charges were filed against De Sousa under seal in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. The subpoena sought records dating back to 2008 related to his pay stubs, tax documents, personnel files, internal investigation records, travel, secondary employment and education.

The subpoena sought the information “forthwith.”

The second subpoena was issued to the Department of Finance on Friday, a day after the charges were made public. It asked for information about De Sousa’s taxes since 2012 and instructed officials to comply by today.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment Tuesday on the investigation.

Several former federal prosecutors said the subpoenas likely explain why prosecutors initially filed a motion to seal the tax charges against De Sousa, barring them from public view. In the motion to seal, dated May 8, prosecutors said that disclosure could “compromise the on-going investigation, including causing the destruction of evidence and potential witness tampering.”

Steven Levin, a former federal prosecutor, said that “the fact that we’ve learned of this subpoena explains why they initially sealed it.”

The language of the May 8 motion meant that prosecutors’ work was far from finished, said Ty Kelly, a former federal prosecutor who has investigated the Baltimore Police Department.

“I’m not surprised that the prosecutors are doing exactly what they said were doing,” she said.

During their investigation of the corrupt Gun Trace Task Force, federal prosecutors gained unfettered access to the city’s police department — and a wealth of cooperators, Kelly said.

“In light of the fact that there were so many cooperators in the GTTF cases,” she said, “these prosecutors received a lot of information about the inner workings of the Baltimore Police Department, so it’s not surprising that they’ll dig where they need to dig.”

Kelly pointed out that most of the records requested in the subpoenas are related to De Sousa’s taxes and finances, but other records, such as internal investigations, could indicate a broader scope.

Such an expansive inquiry could mean that another shoe may drop in terms of charges, said Jonathan Biran, another former federal prosecutor.

“This most likely means that De Sousa has not reached any agreement with the prosecutors and that he may be gearing up for a fight,” Biran said. “I would think that Mr. De Sousa knows better than most how capable the prosecutors in the U.S. Attorneys Office are.”

Levin wondered whether De Sousa’s resignation Tuesday was prompted by information revealed by the subpoena.

“It also raises the question: Was it something related to the subpoena that led the commissioner to resign?” he said.

De Sousa faces up to a year in prison and a $25,000 fine for each of the three charges announced Thursday of failing to file federal income tax returns in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

He said in a statement on Twitter the same day that he had failed to file federal and state tax returns those years, but did have taxes withheld from his police salary.

De Sousa wrote that he failed “to sufficiently prioritize [his] personal affairs,” and said he was working with an accountant to rectify the situation. His attorneys later criticized federal prosecutors for filing the charges against him without giving him an opportunity to do so.

Immediately after the charges were unsealed, Mayor Catherine Pugh expressed confidence in De Sousa, calling his failure to file taxes a “mistake.” The next day, she suspended him with pay pending the outcome of the federal case, saying it was in the best interest of the city. On Tuesday, she announced his resignation.

De Sousa was a 30-year veteran of the department.

iduncan@baltsun.com

twitter.com/iduncan

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