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Two more officers plead guilty in kickback scandal

Two more Baltimore police officers pleaded guilty Monday to accepting kickbacks from a Rosedale auto repair shop.

Jerry Edward Diggs Jr. and Osvaldo Valentine were convicted of conspiracy and extortion in separate hearings. They each face a maximum of 25 years in prison at their sentencings, scheduled back to back on March 12. But they will likely be sentenced to terms of less than four years, according to their plea agreements.

Diggs and Valentine join at least seven other officers who have pleaded guilty in the case, along with the two owners of Majestic Auto Repair Shop: brothers Hernan Alexis Moreno and Edwin Javier Mejia.

The officers admitted steering customers toward Majestic in exchange for payment. In some cases, they also admitted increasing a vehicle's damage and falsifying accident reports so the brothers could collect more from insurance companies.

A total of 17 officers were charged in the scheme this year. Charges against one officer have since been dropped, and the remaining seven cases have not been resolved.

According to his plea agreement, Diggs took his personal vehicle to Majestic for repairs, at the suggestion of a fellow officer. The car's bumper had been damaged in an accident, but Diggs also wanted unrelated scratches repaired. He let Moreno inflict more damage to the vehicle, then filed a separate insurance claim for the scratches. He also accepted roughly $5,000 in kickbacks from Moreno and Mejia for steering customers their way.

Valentine referred "vehicles on a regular basis to Majestic in exchange for payment" and received at least $14,400 over a 10-month period last year, according to his plea agreement. Valentine also "recruited multiple other BPD officers to participate in the conspiracy and extortion scheme," the document states.

tricia.bishop@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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