An ongoing review by the Baltimore state’s attorney’s office has whittled down the number of cases affected by the Police Department’s corrupt Gun Trace Task Force from nearly 3,000 to about 1,700, Marilyn J. Mosby told the City Council this week.
Mosby said at a budget hearing Monday night that Deputy State’s Attorney Janice Bledsoe has been reviewing cases to see whether the eight officers of the task force were material witnesses against defendants charged with and convicted of serious crimes.
“Some of these individuals who have been convicted are really dangerous individuals,” Mosby said of the defendants. “We make an assessment based on the materiality of the officers. If the officer is a material witness, then we are not going to proceed on those cases. That means not only the open cases we’re not going to proceed, but we also go back” and vacate convictions.
Mosby said her office was in the process of hiring law clerks to assist with the work.
“My deputies are the ones who are going into court and arguing these cases. It’s drained a great deal of resources," Mosby said. “It’s extremely time consuming.”
In February, Mosby said her office’s preliminary estimate was that thousands of cases were impacted by eight city officers who have been found guilty of racketeering for using their badges to rob people, including two detectives who were convicted by a federal jury. The initial allegations in the federal indictment dated from 2015, but officers cooperating with the government have testified to committing crimes as far back as 2008.
In December, the state’s attorney’s office said about 125 cases had been dropped or the defendant’s conviction had been vacated as a result of allegations against the gun task force officers.
Four of the eight convicted officers are scheduled to be sentenced this week. Former Sgt. Wayne Jenkins, who pleaded guilty and was the leader of the Gun Trace Task Force, and former Det. Marcus Taylor, who was convicted at trial, will be sentenced Thursday. Former Detective Maurice Ward and former Detectuve Evodio Hendrix, who both pleaded guilty and testified against fellow officers, will be sentenced Friday.
Mosby’s testimony came during a rescheduled budget hearing for the city prosecutor’s office. Last week, when she didn’t attend a hearing before the City Council, it sparked conflict with the chairman of the budget committee, Councilman Eric T. Costello. Her office said she already was committed to attend a community event and asked several times for a postponement ahead of a hearing.
“I am extremely disappointed that the head of the agency is unable to join us this evening,” said Costello, citing the size of the state’s attorney’s office, which employs nearly 400 people and receives around $36.6 million from the city each year.
He rescheduled the meeting for Monday night.
Costello is supporting Mosby’s opponent Ivan Bates in the state’s attorney’s race. At the rescheduled hearing, Costello recused himself from chairing the meeting due to his political support of Bates.