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Dozens file letters of support for Baltimore police Gun Trace Task Force sergeant ahead of sentencing

A retired Baltimore police detective who worked as a contract specialist with the Gun Trace Task Force said a sergeant convicted in the case had repeatedly sought to move two corrupt detectives out of the unit.

In a letter to the court on behalf of former Sgt. Thomas Allers, who is scheduled to be sentenced Friday, Elizabeth Geiselman wrote that Allers had “voiced concerns” about Detectives Momodu Gondo and Jemell Rayam.

“On four separate occasions Sgt. Allers spoke to me in confidence that he had requested Gondo and Rayam be removed from the unit and was told no,” Geiselman said.

Geiselman is among the dozens of Allers supporters who wrote to U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Blake saying they were having difficulty squaring his conviction with the man and officer they knew. Allers faces up to 20 years in prison at his sentencing Friday.

“I still find myself perplexed that Sgt. Allers is embroiled in this corruption as I believe he is a fine individual,” wrote Geiselman. She had stronger words for the department: “The check and balance system was broken, which only emboldens those officers.”

Allers was charged in August, after Gondo and Rayam became government cooperators and said they had robbed people with Allers on nine occasions between 2014 and 2016.

In all, eight members of the Gun Trace Task Force were convicted of using their badges to rob people, sometimes of thousands of dollars at a time. Members of the unit falsified paperwork to cover their tracks, and prosecutors said they took unearned overtime pay.

Last week, Allers’ defense attorney, under seal, submitted dozens of letters sent to Blake by supporters of Allers. The defense attorney agreed to file the majority of the documents publicly after The Baltimore Sun protested the request to seal.

In letter after letter, Allers’ supporters tell Blake he was an upstanding person and officer. The letters come from family members, former colleagues and people he met along the way — even one of his old confidential informants.

Geiselman, who said she knew nothing of the alleged crimes, said she was not surprised by charges against the other members of the squad. “I found their characters to be amoral and lacking,” she told Blake in a letter.

“In my opinion, whatever the outcome, Sgt. Allers is not fully to blame. Some responsibility must be placed at the feet of those who refused to transfer Gondo and Rayam. It follows that there would be no point in charging an officer with departmental infractions if it has already been demonstrated that they carry a certain protection from someone with power.”

Geiselman could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Another letter to Blake was sent from Det. John Clewell, who was a member of the Gun Trace Task Force during the period when it was alleged the unit was committing crimes, but who has not faced any criminal accusations or charges. Cooperating officers have testified that Clewell was kept uninformed of the robberies.

Clewell wrote that he worked with Allers for six years and found him to be a “people person, whose heart knows no bounds.” He recounts an incident in which Allers ran into a burning home, and told how he organized a road trip on his day off to take an informant struggling with addiction to see his father.

Allers’ attorney ,Gary Proctor, wrote in a sentencing memorandum that accompanied the letters that Allers should not face more time than Gondo and Rayam. His sentencing guidelines call for 14 to more than 17 years in prison.

“In no fair world could Allers be said to hold a candle” to the other officers, Proctor wrote.

Proctor says that Allers became an alcoholic and developed mental health problems as a result of his experiences as an officer, including seeing a pregnant woman and her unborn child fatally shot.

But Proctor says “perhaps the major factor in the downward spiral” occurred when the city changed the amount of service time officers needed before they could retire. Proctor writes that Allers had planned on retiring as soon as he was eligible and was counting down the weeks and months, when the city in 2010 made a change that required officers to serve 25 years instead of 20 years before they could retire. That pushed his earliest retirement date from 2016 to 2021.

“While of course, none of this excuses his conduct, it does put it into context,” Proctor wrote.

In Allers’ indictment, federal prosecutors alleged that his adult son — who was not a police officer — accompanied him on a 2014 raid in which tens of thousands of dollars were taken. Allers said the homeowners “wouldn’t miss a stack” of money if it was stolen, and the officers helped themselves to bundles of more than $8,000, according to the indictment.

His son, Trent, has not been charged with a crime, and his alleged involvement was not part of the father’s eventual plea agreement. He too wrote a letter to the judge, asking for leniency.

“I love my father your honor and everyone who knows him loves him and knows his TRUE character,” Trent Allers wrote. “I’m begging you to look at all the letters, people who come to stand behind him and know he was just too trusting and caring to the wrong people, wrong place, and wrong time. You don’t spend 21 years with no blemishes on your personal record and then all of a sudden turn bad.”

No sentencing dates have been set for the other seven officers convicted in the case.

jfenton@baltsun.com

twitter.com/justin_fenton

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