The defense attorney for disgraced former Baltimore Police Sgt. Wayne Jenkins is asking that he receive 20 years in prison at his sentencing next week.
Attorney Steve Levin wrote in a sentencing memorandum filed with the court late Thursday that the leader of the police department’s corrupt Gun Trace Task Force “climbed the ladder of success through hard work,” but “threw it all away by engaging in activity which he recognizes was wrong and knew would be his downfall if discovered. The question is why.”
“Regrettably, what happened to Mr. Jenkins has and could happen to any leader not prepared for the success that hard work has brought,” Levin wrote. “Now, because of that ill-preparedness, whether through personal failings, organizational fault, or both, his future hangs in the balance, dependent on the love and support of his family, and the understanding of this court.”
Federal prosecutors said this month that they are seeking the maximum sentence of 30 years for Jenkins, 37, who pleaded guilty to racketeering and other charges in January. Three other officers convicted in the case will be sentenced next week as well.
Jenkins admitted to a range of crimes, from robbing people he stopped on the street, to stealing looted drugs during the April 2015 riot that followed the death of Freddie Gray, to knowing of drugs planted after a fatal high-speed chase, resulting in an innocent man spending years in federal prison.
Cooperating defendants testified that he carried masks and tools and was plotting high-stakes robberies of drug dealers. He was described as a “golden boy” viewed as “untouchable” within the department.
Prosecutors say the police department relies on supervisors to check officers’ behavior, and that Jenkins deserves more time in prison because he facilitated and encouraged his subordinates’ crimes.
U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Blake handed down 15 years to Sgt. Thomas Allers, the first officer in the case to be sentenced, after prosecutors sought the maximum of 20 years.
Levin attached to the sentencing memorandum more than 30 letters of support from friends and family members, who wrote to Blake that Jenkins was remorseful and has accepted responsibility for his crimes.
Friends and family said Jenkins was a doting father who never missed a school event and served as a volunteer coach for his son’s youth football team. A former Marine, he helped the community after Tropical Storm Isabel rocked their neighborhood.
He and his wife lost a son in late 2015, which they described as a traumatic event. The memo also refers to a personal problem that is redacted from the publicly available version of the document.
Jenkins’ father, Lloyd Jenkins, shared a letter he said his son wrote to him from jail with Blake. It said: “Pop, I have did somethings that are wrong, and I know that I have caused a lot of pain and suffering. I am so sorry, and ashamed for embarrassing my wife, kids and the rest of the family. I am sorry for the people I did wrong to. Please forgive me.”
Levin argues Jenkins experienced “Bathsheba Syndrome,” which refers to the story of King David and Bathsheba from the Old Testament and describes when successful people suffer ethical lapses.
“Like David — who lost the child he bore with Bathsheba, who lost the respect of his kingdom that led to future leadership problems, whose conduct lowered morale among his troops, and who had to deal with the extreme personal guilt of his conduct — Mr. Jenkins lost a child, has lost his job, his reputation, his retirement benefits and, of course, has lost his freedom,” Levin wrote.
As an example, Levin’s memorandum cites former Baltimore Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris, who was convicted and sentenced to six months in federal prison in 2004 for corruption and tax charges related to an expense account. Levin prosecuted Norris when he was with the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office; Norris has accused prosecutors of being overzealous.
The sentencing memorandum contains pictures of Jenkins with his family, and copies of commendations he received from the police department. Jenkins pleaded guilty to crimes stretching back to 2010. That same year, he was named officer of the year by a local American Legion Post.
“This is not the man I know,” wrote Jenkins’ wife of 14 years, Kristy, to Blake, describing Jenkins as “the most loving and caring husband I could ever ask for.”
“Wayne is truly sorry for his actions. He is very remorseful,” she wrote. “He will be an even better man when he comes out of this.”