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Seventh officer sentenced, to 2.5 years in towing case

A seventh Baltimore police officer was sentenced Tuesday for his involvement in a towing kickback scheme, prosecutors said.

Jhonn Corona, 33, of Rosedale, was given 2.5 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release for directing cars from auto accidents to a particular towing company, Majestic, whose owners were paying police officers for each referral, according to a statement Tuesday from the Maryland U.S. Attorney's Office. Corona has also been ordered to pay about $20,000 as restitution to insurance companies and the Baltimore Police Department.

Corona had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit, and committing, extortion.

From early 2008 until Feb. 2011, Corona received up to $300 for each referral he made to Majestic from the towing company's owners, prosecutors said.

The officer knew that the towing company's employees would further damage wrecked cars in order to increase insurance claims, the government said. That extra money from insurance companies covered the bribes paid to Corona and other officers and increased Majestic's profits, the statement said.

In 2010, Corona also had Majestic's owners, Hernan Moreno and Edwin Mejia, purposely damage Corona's personal vehicle and file a false insurance claim.

Sixteen officers have either pleaded or been found guilty for involvement in the scheme, prosecutors said. In all, the entire kickback scheme caused at least $120,000 in loss to insurers.

The six officers who were sentenced before Corona have all been given jail time, their sentences ranging between eight and 30 months, the statement said.

Moreno, 31, of Rosedale, and Mejia, 28, of Middle River, have pleaded guilty to the extortion conspiracy and face up to 20 years in prison. Their sentencing dates have not been scheduled.

steve.kilar@baltsun.com

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