The Baltimore cops called themselves the "untouchables group" and talked in thinly veiled code, referring to alleged payoffs as "coffee," according to a criminal complaint filed by the FBI. They complained about being broke and demanded expedited payments. They made disparaging remarks about the people they were supposed to protect.
Phone conversations and streams of text messages intercepted during a corruption investigation caught police officers in unguarded moments — raw chats laced with profanities and describing meetings in convenience store parking lots to collect money, sometimes with officers pulling up in marked squad cars.
Parts of the wiretaps are quoted in a 41-page indictment unsealed Wednesday in U.S. District Court. They are an integral part of an investigation that became public with the arrests of 17 Baltimore police officers charged with getting kickbacks for steering accident victims to a single car repair shop on Rosedale.
According to the affidavit, the officers called their victims "clients" and talked business even while working shooting scenes. And as is the case in so many wiretap investigations, they were recorded talking about how they should not be talking about what they were doing.
"How much do you pay to refer a crashed car?" Northern District Officer Eric Ivan Ayala Olivera reportedly asked Herman Alexis Moreno Mejia, referred to as Moreno, the co-owner of Majestic auto repair shop, according to the indictment.
"You already know," the owner replied.
The officer professed ignorance.
"Two-fifty," the owner told him, explaining the rules of the game further. "It's not just a matter of calling me. You have to make sure the car gets to the shop."
Later, the same officer seeks more information. "The man here tells me that the way you work is that if I get you a little car with a little soup on it, then you release something on the side?
"Yes, yes," came the answer. "But it's better that we speak in person."
The officers and repair shop owners tried to talk in code. Officer Luis Nunez asked Moreno about a Trail Blazer that had been towed 10 days earlier in January. "Why?" Moreno responded. "It's getting fixed, why are you asking what happened?"
Nunez responded, according to the criminal complaint: "Ha, ha, you forgot my commission."
Said Moreno: "I didn't invite you in for coffee? My bad, then tell me when we can go to get coffee?"
The affidavit says the two met at a 7-Eleven on Pulaski highway.
Working an active crime scene didn't stop Officer Jhonn S. Corona from a lengthy text-message exchange with Moreno after midnight on Feb. 12.
"Dude, are you working?," Moreno asked the officer in a text message intercepted by the FBI.
"Yea, I'm at a shooting. We have a second shooting, maybe a homicide," Corona answered.
"[Expletive], Edwin told me you wanted $1,000," Moreno said.
The officer then complained about bad luck finding more cars and how he needed money. "My pay made me cry, with that 2 percent cut, which is less 100 from my check," Corona texted. "I killed myself to take home 1100 I was mad."
Crime Scenes: FBI wiretap captures cops in colorful conversations
Officers charged in corruptions scandal complain about slow payments, cuts in salary
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