Baltimore Police commander recalled from elite fellowship, suspended after Sun reveals theft investigation

A high-ranking Baltimore police commander who has been under investigation for using funds from a police-community relations nonprofit to pay for plane tickets for a personal European vacation has been recalled from an elite national police fellowship and suspended by the department, officials confirmed Tuesday.

The theft investigation into Maj. Kimberly Burrus’ actions has been open since at least December, months before she was sent to the International Association of Chiefs of Police as a fellow in March. However, her recall and suspension with pay did not occur until Monday, after The Baltimore Sun published an article revealing the investigation.

Asked about the timing of Burrus’ selection for the fellowship and her recall and suspension, Capt. Jarron Jackson, a police spokesman, said Burrus was sent to the IACP by former Commissioner Darryl De Sousa — not De Sousa’s successor, interim Commissioner Gary Tuggle.

“This commissioner suspended her,” Jackson said.

Jackson said he couldn’t comment on the investigation or say when Tuggle was first made aware of it.

“The investigation is ongoing and we will not comment further on an ongoing personnel matter,” Jackson said. “We can confirm that she is suspended and has been removed from the IACP Fellowship program that she was assigned to a couple of months ago.”

Burrus could not be reached Tuesday for comment, nor could her attorney, Martin Cadogan. Neither has responded to previous requests for comment about the investigation.

The Baltimore state’s attorney’s office has declined to comment on the case, calling it an “open and pending matter.”

Sarah Guy, an IACP senior adviser, said Tuesday that the Baltimore Police Department, which detailed Burrus to the IACP, never informed the organization about the open internal affairs investigation.

“At no time, either prior to or during this fellowship was the IACP made aware of any concerns regarding Major Burrus,” Guy said in a statement. “The BPD has informed the IACP that Major Burrus’s fellowship has concluded and that she is being recalled to the Department.”

De Sousa also served as an IACP fellow, before returning to the department last year. He was then appointed commissioner by Mayor Catherine E. Pugh in January, after Pugh fired his predecessor, Kevin Davis, amid stubbornly high levels of violence.

In May, De Sousa was charged with three federal misdemeanors: willfully failing to file federal tax returns in 2013, 2014 or 2015. He admitted to not filing state or federal returns in those years, was suspended by the department, and then resigned.

Tuggle, a deputy commissioner, was appointed to take over the department as Pugh’s administration conducts a national search for a permanent replacement.

The police department does not discuss internal investigations, under state law. However, the allegations against Burrus were disclosed during a December custody hearing between her and her husband, Baltimore Police Capt. Torran Burrus.

Kimberly Burrus founded the nonprofit Blue Love Across America after the unrest in Baltimore in 2015 to improve relations between police and citizens. However, by 2016, the nonprofit had stopped operating.

During the hearing, a recording of which was reviewed by The Sun, Torran Burrus — who served on the nonprofit’s board of directors and is now divorced from Kimberly Burrus — said he notified the police department’s internal affairs office that he had found evidence that his wife had misused funds that had been donated to the charity. He said the evidence was a bank statement that he spotted in a recycling bin on her porch.

“I saw that there was money from the account, this nonprofit that was designed to better the relationships, the trust, repair the trust, between communities and the police department,” Torran Burrus said in court. “Over $2,000 was taken and used to purchase tickets for Kim’s vacation.”

Torran Burrus has declined through an attorney to comment on the matter.

Kimberly Burrus admitted during the hearing to using the nonprofit’s credit card to buy plane tickets for her and her two sons. She said she did so after her own credit cards were declined.

She said the funds were owed to her as compensation for expenditures she’d made to cover other nonprofit costs, including for the group’s website and nonprofit filing fees. She said she initially intended to refund the money, but later decided not to pay it back.

“It was my intention initially to put the money back, but what happened was the taxes were never done on the nonprofit,” she testified. “I was starting to get letters from the state saying that if I didn’t turn in X, Y, Z, then the nonprofit would be closed out. I got a letter from the bank saying that if I didn’t provide certain documentation, that the bank account would be closed out. So I didn’t return the funds.”

krector@baltsun.com

twitter.com/rectorsun

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
79°