'Additional targets' pursued in Baltimore police gun task force corruption case

Federal prosecutors in the Baltimore police Gun Trace Task Force corruption case say they have “additional targets,” according to a filing in which they ask for tight restrictions on evidence shared with the current defendants.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Derek Hines described the investigation as “ongoing” in requesting that the court impose a protective order on evidence.

“Multiple law enforcement officers and former law enforcement officers have provided information to the United States that relates to an ongoing criminal investigation,” Hines wrote. “This investigation includes an investigation of corruption in the Baltimore Police Department. Disclosure of this information will thwart the investigation because it could tip off additional targets of the investigation, lead to the destruction of evidence, and cause safety issues for multiple law enforcement and non-law enforcement witnesses.”

The government’s evidence restrictions, including turning over evidence just weeks before trial, mirrors how prosecutors handle street gang cases. In the gun task force case, prosecutors have alleged that the officers operated as a criminal enterprise, using the power of their badges to detain and rob people while falsifying evidence to cover their tracks. When they weren’t robbing people, they were often earning fraudulent overtime pay for hours not worked, prosecutors say.

Five officers have pleaded guilty, and a sixth is scheduled to enter a guilty plea on Friday morning. Two other officers — Detectives Daniel Hersl and Marcus Taylor — are slated to fight the charges at a trial beginning Jan. 22.

Reiterating earlier claims that the incarcerated officers present a danger to witnesses, Hines said the government “has reason to believe that witnesses and their families could be subjected to physical harm when their identities are disclosed.”

“The Government believes that the defendants in this case are capable of committing acts of violence and may retaliate against witnesses after learning their identities, or provide documents to non-incarcerated individuals who will commit acts of violence on their behalf,” Hines wrote. “Furthermore, the United States believes that if defense counsel were to disseminate any of the items ... to other defense lawyers who are not involved in the case, there is a significant risk that some cooperating witnesses will be retaliated against, including witnesses in other ongoing criminal investigations.”

jfenton@baltsun.com

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