Several convicted Baltimore Police officers and other witnesses testifying in the Gun Trace Task Force trial have alleged the unit’s corruption was not limited to its eight indicted members or their already-charged co-conspirators — but also included a dozen other officers.
Those officers and an assistant state’s attorney all participated in crimes or helped cover them up as they interacted with the indicted officers in recent years, according to the testimony in federal court in Baltimore and other statements made by prosecutors.
Many of those officers, who have not been charged with any crimes, are still working in law enforcement.
One is the head of Internal Affairs. Another investigates robberies. Another is assigned to the police training academy. And a fourth is the city homicide detective — Det. Sean Suiter — who was fatally shot with his own gun under mysterious circumstances in a vacant West Baltimore lot the day before he was supposed to testify before a federal grand jury in the case.
To be clear, most of the claims during testimony in the trial of detectives Daniel Hersl and Marcus Taylor have come from convicted cops and a convicted bail bondsman who have admitted to lying for years as part of a broad criminal enterprise that involved robbing residents of cash, stealing guns and drugs and reselling them on the street, and filing for unearned overtime pay.
Because of that, there is plenty of skepticism around the testimony, and the uncharged officers who spoke to The Baltimore Sun have denied the allegations.
While Mayor Catherine Pugh and Acting Commissioner Darryl De Sousa have tried to reassure residents that the corruption exposed by the federal investigation is isolated to “a few bad apples,” the police department has been sending observers into court on a daily basis to keep track of any new, troubling testimony.
De Sousa has formed a corruption investigation unit as well to focus specifically on the allegations swirling around the Gun Trace Task Force.
“We are working diligently to investigate and hold those who tarnished the badge and violated public trust accountable for their actions,” the department said in a statement. “The citizens deserve better and the hardworking honorable men and women of this agency deserve better.”
Here is an accounting of the allegations against the uncharged officers and attorney.
Dean Palmere, retiring Baltimore deputy commissioner in charge of the criminal investigations bureau
Former Det. Momodu Gondo, a Gun Trace Task Force member who has pleaded guilty in the case, testified that two other people had told him that Palmere coached officers, including Det. Jemell Rayam, also a GTTF member who has pleaded guilty, on what to say to avoid punishment following a fatal shooting in 2009. At the time of the shooting, Rayam and his partner, Jason Giordano, said they went to investigate 30-year-old Sean Cannady sitting in a vehicle in an alley. Rayam said at the time that he shot Cannady in the head as his vehicle pulled off, “in an attempt to stop what he thought to be an attempt to hit the officers,” police said.
Palmere, who is set to retire, has denied the allegation.
“It’s not true. I would not coach somebody,” Palmere said. “I’ve always taken pride in my ethics and integrity.”
Ian Dombroski, Baltimore police major in charge of internal affairs
Maurice Ward, another GTTF member who has pleaded guilty, testified that before joining the unit, he learned Dombroski would authorize eight hours of overtime pay that officers did not have to work, as a reward for recovering guns.
Dombroski has denied the allegation.
“Ward is a felon and admitted ‘professional liar,’” Dombroski said. “At no time in my career did I authorize Ward or any other officer to earn overtime hours not worked.”
Sean Suiter, Baltimore homicide detective who was fatally shot the day before his scheduled grand jury testimony in the case
On cross-examination of Gondo, defense attorney Christopher Nieto asked if Gondo had told the FBI that he stole money when he worked with Suiter and a squad of several other people. Gondo agreed he had.
Suiter’s family has dismissed Gondo’s claims.
“Sean has never done anything wrong in his life,” said Sherman “Pops” Basil, Suiter’s 82-year-old uncle who helped raise him in Washington. “People will say anything, so I don’t pay no attention to what they say.”
Ryan Guinn, Baltimore police sergeant in the Professional Development and Training Academy
Ward testified that Sgt. Wayne Jenkins, who led the GTTF and has pleaded guilty, told the unit that Guinn had informed him that federal agents investigating two of their colleagues had visited him.
Guinn, a former GTTF member who has not been charged with a crime, previously came up in relation to the federal investigation, in which prosecutors have alleged drugs were planted on a man who fled and got into a fatal crash in a 2010 incident in which Guinn took part.
Guinn was suspended after the allegations arose in November, but reinstated a couple of weeks later. Former Commissioner Kevin Davis said he had spoken with the FBI about Guinn and was “absolutely confident that there are no administrative sanctions to pursue against” him. It’s not clear if Davis knew about the allegation that Guinn might have tipped off the officers.
Guinn declined to comment.
Thomas Wilson III, Baltimore police sergeant on administrative duty at the Western District
Baltimore County bail bondsman Donald C. Stepp, who has pleaded guilty to helping the GTTF sell drugs, said Wilson ran a side security business with Jenkins that provided protection for Stepp when he met with a New York drug supplier at a strip club.
Wilson was reassigned to administrative duties pending an internal investigation after the testimony, a police spokesman said.
Wilson could not be reached for comment.
Michael Sylvester, former Baltimore police officer who now works for the Baltimore Circuit Court clerk
A defense attorney said Rayam told the FBI of a host of additional crimes he committed in 2008-2009 with then-officer Michael Sylvester, who currently works for the court clerk’s office and was assigned to a Circuit Court judge’s courtroom.
Sylvester has declined to comment in the past on his connections to Rayam and allegations he was involved in wrongdoing.
Jason Giordano, Baltimore police sergeant assigned to the Citywide Robbery Unit
Gondo testified that “in a few incidents” years ago, he split up money with Rayam and another group of officers, including Rayam’s former partner Giordano.
Giordano was also at the scene of Rayam’s 2009 shooting that Palmere allegedly coached officers on to avoid punishment.
Giordano could not be reached for comment.
Tariq Edwards, former Baltimore police officer who left the agency in September 2012
Gondo testified that he stole money with Rayam, Giordano and Edwards, another officer who was at the scene of the fatal shooting.
Edwards could not be reached for comment.
Kenneth Ivery, Baltimore police sergeant assigned to the Southern District
Gondo testified that he told the FBI that he stole money with Suiter, Ward, Edwards and Ivery.
Ivery declined to comment.
Sherrod Biggers, Baltimore police officer on the Northeast District Action Team
Gondo testified that Biggers tipped off members of the GTTF to the federal investigation into their actions.
Biggers could not be reached for comment.
Michael Woodlon, former Baltimore police officer, and current Baltimore County police officer
Gondo testified that he had stolen money “in a few incidents” with Rayam, Giordano and Woodlon.
Woodlon was hired by the county department in 2012 and is currently assigned as an officer to the Woodlawn precinct, said Cpl. Shawn Vinson, a county police spokesman.
“We’re aware of the testimony,” Vinson said. “We’re seeking additional information to advance an administrative investigation.”
Woodlon could not be reached for comment.
Unnamed Baltimore County police officer
Stepp, the convicted bail bondsman, said a Baltimore County officer accompanied him on a break-in he committed at Jenkins’ direction. He did not name the officer.
Vinson, the county police spokesman, said the department was aware of the allegations, but not any particulars, and would “attempt to gain additional information that will assist us in conducting a complete investigation into this allegation.”
Unnamed Baltimore assistant state’s attorney
Assistant U.S. Attorney Leo Wise said in federal court in March, just after the GTTF officers were indicted, that a Baltimore assistant state's attorney had tipped the officers off to the federal investigation before it was concluded.
Jenkins’ plea agreement last month reiterated the claim, saying the attorney had tipped Jenkins off.
The attorney has not been identified by federal prosecutors.
The Baltimore State’s Attorney’s office has said it wasn’t part of the federal investigation and referred questions to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Baltimore Sun reporter Alison Knezevich contributed to this article.