The former supervisor of the corrupt Baltimore Police Gun Trace Task Force pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to racketeering conspiracy, admitting he robbed citizens for years and tipped off members of the unit to the investigation of their crimes.
Sgt. Thomas Allers, 49, is the fifth and highest-ranking officer in the case to plead guilty. He faces up to 20 years in federal prison.
The officer, who ran the task force for three years before being assigned to work with the Drug Enforcement Administration in mid-2016, was led into the U.S. District courtroom in a charcoal detention center jumpsuit. He declined a glass of water from his attorney. When Judge Catherine C. Blake asked questions of him, he responded, “Yes, ma’am.”
Allers led a unit once praised by police as key to the department’s crime-fighting strategy of taking guns off the streets. Eight members have been indicted on federal racketeering charges. They are accused of robbing and extorting citizens, falsifying paperwork to cover their tracks and filing for unearned overtime for years. The unit has been disbanded.
Five officers have pleaded guilty. A trial is tentatively scheduled for January for two officers who have pleaded not guilty and another who has not entered a plea. All nine are in jail while awaiting sentencing or trial.
Allers admitted to participating in nine robberies between 2014 and 2016 that prosecutors say yielded more than $100,000 in cash. Some of the incidents took place in Baltimore in Anne Arundel counties.
Prosecutors say an adult son of Allers who was not a police officer participated in a raid in which $66,000 was taken by father and son and two other detectives. The son has not been charged.
Authorities have not named the son in court papers, and The Baltimore Sun has been unable to identify or locate him. Allers’ family declined to comment after the hearing on Wednesday.
In another incident, prosecutors say a man robbed by Allers was unable to pay a drug debt and was killed as a result.
Allers also admitted that he learned of the investigation into his former unit while he was working with the DEA and tipped his former co-workers off “to thwart law enforcement efforts.”
The Drug Enforcement Administration became aware of the corruption within the Baltimore Police Gun Trace Task Force when they intercepted Detective Momodu Gondo on a wiretap discussing drug dealing. The DEA passed the information to the FBI, which launched a broader investigation into the unit that involved wiretaps and a recording device placed in a squad car.
Allers and another former gun unit detective were assigned to the DEA at the time. A DEA spokesman, asked whether the agency has conducted an internal review into how Allers became aware of the case, declined to comment.
Allers joins Detectives Gondo, Jemell Rayam, Evodio Hendrix and Maurice Ward in pleading guilty.
Allers’ sentencing was scheduled for Feb. 23. His defense attorney, Gary Proctor, said this week that Allers was not cooperating with authorities in their continuing case and had “no plans to do so going forward.”
Meanwhile, new information was uncovered Wednesday about a 2014 case in which a Baltimore prosecutor complained that Sgt. Wayne Jenkins had been untruthful. Jenkins succeeded Allers as supervisor of the gun task force and is now charged in the corruption case.
In a Baltimore state’s attorney’s office report marked “confidential,” which is included in court filings, prosecutors say the police internal affairs division was investigating Officer Benjamin Frieman after determining CCTV footage from a drug arrest he made with Jenkins conflicted with the account Frieman wrote in charging documents.
A city prosecutor flagged the case at the time, prompting investigations by the office and police, a defense attorney with access to the internal affairs file said in a court motion this week.
The 2014 incident adds new questions about how police continued to deploy Jenkins on the streets and put him in charge of its elite Gun Trace Task Force unit in June 2016, and why prosecutors continued to call him as a witness.
Jenkins has not entered a plea in the federal racketeering case. He is scheduled to go to trial in January.
Frieman referred questions Wednesday to the public information office of the Baltimore Police Department, which did not respond.
In the confidential state’s attorney’s office report, prosecutors say they declined to criminally charge Frieman, and the case was being investigated by police internal affairs for charges of giving a false statement. The outcome of the internal affairs case is not clear, because such records are tightly restricted in Maryland.
One month after the drug arrest at issue, records show that Frieman and Jenkins were involved in a pursuit of a suspect whom Jenkins struck with his car.
In a statement of probable cause in that case, Frieman wrote that the officers observed the man displaying “characteristics of an armed individual” who then took off running. Frieman gave chase, while Jenkins remained in the car.
“Detective Jenkins then observed [the suspect] holding a dark color handgun in his right hand while [the suspect] was running and looking back towards Detective Frieman,” Frieman wrote. “Detective Sergeant Jenkins believed that I was in great danger or even a chance of possible death.”
Jenkins drove onto the sidewalk “and struck [the suspect] with the front of his vehicle.”
The man was taken to a hospital for treatment. The weapon was located and determined to be a BB gun. Police said drugs were found on the man. Prosecutors dropped all charges against him.