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Ringleader of Baltimore police Gun Trace Task Force seeks release from prison, saying he saved another inmate’s life

When seven officers from the Gun Trace Task Force were arrested in 2017, the sprawling case was shocking. Plain clothes officers targeted people, stole hundreds of thousands of dollars, lied about overtime and also conducted searches without warrants. Prosecutors said Sgt. Wayne Jenkins was the ring leader of the rogue squad.
When seven officers from the Gun Trace Task Force were arrested in 2017, the sprawling case was shocking. Plain clothes officers targeted people, stole hundreds of thousands of dollars, lied about overtime and also conducted searches without warrants. Prosecutors said Sgt. Wayne Jenkins was the ring leader of the rogue squad. (Kevin Richardson / Baltimore Sun)

Former Baltimore Police Sgt. Wayne Jenkins — who was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison for years of robberies, drug dealing and other crimes — has asked a judge to release him just four years into his sentence, citing his efforts to save another inmate suffering a medical episode.

Jenkins, who said he has been in solitary confinement for three months after being jumped by other inmates at Edgefield Federal Correctional Facility in South Carolina, claims he performed life-saving measures on an inmate who had lost consciousness in late February. He said it meets the “extraordinary and compelling” reasons that could allow him to be released early.

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Included in his petition is a denial of the same request from Edgefield’s warden, who said the crimes Jenkins committed present too much of a public safety risk.

“Despite performing life-saving measures on an inmate, you may be capable of reoffending and placing the community at significant risk,” Warden S.W. Phelps wrote in April.

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Jenkins’ desire to highlight his good deed isn’t surprising. For much of Jenkins’s career, he was lauded by superiors while avoiding scrutiny for misconduct. Jenkins received an award from the department for saving officers during the 2015 unrest, while hours later, a co-conspirator would later say, he was taking looted pharmaceutical drugs to an associate to be re-sold.

He was viewed within the department as a “top-tier asset” for getting guns off the street at the same time he was stalking targets for robberies and lying in court, according to court records and testimony.

Jenkins’ motion takes a different tack than earlier this year when he broke his silence and said he had been railroaded by federal prosecutors and had never taken money or planted evidence.

Other convicted members of the GTTF also have sought early release in recent months. Former detectives Jemell Rayam and Marcus Taylor both asked for release citing health issues and the COVID-19 pandemic, and were denied by U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Blake. Former detective Momodu Gondo also has a pending motion citing health concerns.

Jenkins’ 50-page petition, filed without the aid of an attorney, includes letters from family and fellow inmates. The 40-year-old tells Blake that his 25-year sentence is a “life sentence” and says he should not have received more time than co-defendants serving eight years.

The officers who received eight years pleaded guilty and cooperated with the government.

Jenkins said he was “severely” assaulted by other inmates recently and a transfer to another facility is pending.

“The defendant’s sentence has been significantly more laborious then [sic] that served by other inmates,” Jenkins wrote.

He centers his request on an incident he said took place in February in which his cell mate was found unresponsive and without a pulse. Jenkins said he cleared the man’s airway and administered CPR. He includes a letter that he said is from that inmate.

“Judges, officials, courts and prosecutors hand out life sentences every day through out our nation for individuals who actually ‘take a life.’ What is it worth for someone to save another’s life?” says the letter, which calls Jenkins a “hero.”

Jenkins wrote that he wants to see a new law passed — which he proposes be called “Rocco’s Law,” after his cell mate — that if someone saves another life in prison that they become eligible for a sentence reduction.

Jenkins offered no explanation or accounting for his crimes, instead repeatedly stressed that his family is struggling without him and that he is ready to return and be a productive member of the community. He wrote that he has a job lined up with his brother’s electrical company, and wants to coach youth football and teach jiu-jitsu.

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“The defendant has renewed his faith while incarcerated, and finds peace with God. The defendant stays positive and mentors others,” Jenkins wrote.

His family reiterates in new letters that they believe Jenkins got “caught up in the negative culture” of the Baltimore Police Department.

“Our family has been approached by so many of Wayne’s former co-workers apologizing to us for not being able to come to Wayne’s defense, because of repercussions they would face,” his sister wrote.

“How I wish he would have stayed in the Marine’s rather than join the corruption of the Baltimore Police force,” Jenkins’ father wrote in another letter submitted to the court.

Testimonials from other fellow inmates are included in Jenkins’ petition.

“If I was released, I would be the first person to offer Wayne a job,” wrote Robert Frank Miller, who was sentenced to 17 years in prison for defrauding investors and home buyers. “I consider myself a good judge of Wayne’s character.”

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