A Baltimore City police detective was charged Thursday with lying in a search warrant affidavit to gain entry to a Canton home, then trying to obstruct an ensuing internal affairs investigation.
The raid resulting from the affidavit led to the discovery of guns and suspected drugs, police said at the time, and a 39-year-old man was arrested. But the man's lawyer says an analysis came back negative for drugs, and prosecutors were forced to drop the gun charges after the misconduct allegations arose.
Adam Lewellen, a member of the Violent Crimes Impact Section, faces charges of perjury, misconduct, obstructing and hindering, obstruction of justice and witness intimidation.
"As today's charges demonstrate yet again, we are committed to fully investigating alleged misconduct by public officials of any kind and, where appropriate, prosecuting them to the fullest extent of the law," State's Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein said in a statement.
Earlier in the day, Bernstein swore in a new police misconduct prosecutor, former state prosecutor Shelly S. Glenn. Bernstein's office has brought charges against several officers this year, including another officer accused of lying to obtain a search warrant.
The new charges say that Lewellen, 30, "willfully and falsely made an oath to a District Court judge that falsely described an alleged controlled buy by a confidential informant and an investigation into a suspect" in order to obtain a search-and-seizure warrant for a home in the 3100 block of Foster Ave. on March 22.
According to court records, Lewellen was involved in a March 27 raid at the same address, after obtaining a warrant from District Judge Shannon Avery, who has been on the bench since August 2010.
Lewellen, along with six other officers, used force to enter the home and encountered David Esteppe, who lived there, according to police records. During a search, police found a shotgun, a rifle and ammunition, and police said Esteppe waived his rights and wrote down on a piece of paper that the weapons belonged to him. Esteppe, who has a second-degree assault conviction, was prohibited from owning the weapons, and the officers also said they found a scale with suspected cocaine inside a kitchen pantry.
Esteppe was arrested, held on $25,000 bond and released that day. He was later indicted, but the charges were dropped over the summer.
John Raine III, Esteppe's attorney, said the drug charge was dropped because a chemical analysis on a kitchen scale came back negative. A paraphernalia charge based on the scale itself was also dropped.
But he declined to comment further on the case, saying Esteppe was still a client of his in a matter connected to the search.
"I'm really not at liberty to discuss why I think he was targeted," he said.
The misconduct charges accuse Lewellen of trying to mislead an internal affairs investigator and influencing an undisclosed witness.
Lewellen served on the Fraternal Order of Police's contract negotiation team. Carlos Vila, another member of the team, was recently charged with tape-recording a conversation with a judge in violation of the state's wiretapping laws. The union president, Robert F. Cherry, did not return a request for comment, and attempts to reach Lewellen were unsuccessful.
Baltimore Sun reporter Ian Duncan contributed to this article.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun