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Baltimore ex-officer sentenced for lying to FBI about cocaine theft; case throws gang convictions into question

Police officials touted this 2009 dug bust. Former Baltimore police detective Ivo Louvado was sentenced Monday to 14 months in prison for lying to the FBI about stealing 7 pounds of cocaine from that same bust. Louvado is on the right, in the sweatshirt with red lettering.
Police officials touted this 2009 dug bust. Former Baltimore police detective Ivo Louvado was sentenced Monday to 14 months in prison for lying to the FBI about stealing 7 pounds of cocaine from that same bust. Louvado is on the right, in the sweatshirt with red lettering. (Baltimore Sun Staff / Baltimore Sun)

A former Baltimore Police detective and federal task force officer was sentenced Monday to 14 months in prison for lying to federal agents about stealing and selling cocaine more than a decade ago — a revelation that could upend a massive gang case.

Ivo Louvado’s conviction stemmed from the fallout of the Gun Trace Task Force corruption investigation. Louvado was never part of the unit, but he worked in 2009 with eventual GTTF Sgt. Wayne Jenkins in a plainclothes squad that once seized more than 40 kilograms of cocaine. It was said at the time to be a record bust.

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Investigators in the GTTF case learned that Louvado, along with two other detectives, had pilfered three kilograms from that seizure, and used an informant to sell the drugs. They all split the money, and Louvado used his portion, $10,000, to buy a boat, according to Bloods defense attorneys who were provided information from federal prosecutors about his case. Louvado’s attorney, however, maintained that he gave the money away out of guilt.

But when confronted by investigators in 2018, Louvado lied.

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“The need for deterrence remains strong,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Leo Wise told U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake in asking for the 14-month sentence. “This wasn’t an isolated incident within the BPD. … What we have seen is that this conduct has metastasized. We’re now prosecuting officers multiple steps removed from the genesis of that [GTTF] investigation.”

Louvado’s attorney, Brian Murphy, maintained that the incident was a one-off that had haunted his 47-year-old client for years.

“But for this conduct, which can’t be excused, he was a good cop,” Murphy said.

As Louvado heads to a penitentiary, federal prosecutors in the same office that brought charges against him are trying to salvage his work in a major federal gang case, where defense attorneys say the revelations about his misconduct entitle their clients to new trials. Those motions are pending.

Prosecutors say Louvado’s past troubles shouldn’t upend the massive investigation of the Murdaland Mafia Piru Bloods gang that took years and involved 100 investigators.

Louvado’s conviction “provides no legal basis for disturbing the guilty verdicts returned by two separate juries after hearing from over 70 witnesses and reviewing close to 1,000 exhibits over the course of more than 7 weeks of trial,” wrote Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christina A. Hoffman and Lauren E. Perry in a September court filing.

One defense attorney in a filing called the response “cavalier” and “shocking.”

After the cocaine theft, Louvado went on to spend a decade as a task force officer assigned to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and wrote search warrants in the investigation of the Murdaland Mafia Piru Bloods gang, who were indicted in 2016.

Prosecutors say the gang “controlled the drug trade in large swaths of Northwest Baltimore and neighboring Baltimore County and wreaked havoc in the surrounding communities,” including five murders and additional attempted murders.

FBI investigators on the GTTF case learned of the 2009 allegations against Louvado and questioned him in March 2018, two days before a motions hearing in the Bloods case. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said the timing was deliberate, to help them decide whether to call him as a witness in the Bloods case. But they did not reveal the allegations to defense attorneys.

The GTTF investigation was “highly sensitive in nature,” and prosecutors said they were not apprised of anything that would cause them to have concerns about Louvado.

In his interview, Louvado was asked about money being taken during the 2009 bust, and said he had no knowledge and would’ve reported it if he did. The statute of limitations had passed already for Louvado to be charged with the drug theft; Wise, the GTTF prosecutor, said the agents were “looking quite genuinely for this officer to tell the truth.”

Wise said Louvado’s lies stymied their investigation, until additional information came to light the next year.

“This foolish mistake on my part has forever changed my life,” Louvado told the sentencing judge Monday.

Prosecutors in the Bloods case learned of direct allegations against Louvado three weeks into their trial, in 2019.

“As it was, the newly-received information about Louvado bore on the credibility of a non-witness, and was completely unrelated to the facts of the MMP investigation,” Hoffman and Perry wrote.

Attorneys for several of the convicted gang members, including leader Dante Bailey, say the revelations about Louvado’s past misconduct “so thoroughly tainted” the case that they are entitled to a new trial and that they “probably” would each be acquitted if tried again.

There’s no evidence that Louvado lied in the Bloods investigation, but the defense attorneys say he lied when he presented himself as an honest investigator, and investigative actions that rely on his credibility are now suspect.

“He concealed his prior misconduct from judicial officers and misrepresented himself as an honest investigator of drug dealers rather than as a participant in drug and other crimes,” defense attorneys wrote.

Separately, attorneys for Sydni Frazier, who also was charged in the Bloods case, say he too is entitled to a new trial based on the disclosures. Frazier was tried and convicted separately for the abduction, robbery and killing of a man shot near the Westport light rail tracks in 2016.

“If the government has misrepresented Louvado’s role in the investigation and information in the affidavits did in fact come from Louvado’s personal participation, then Frazier should be able to delve into what that information was,” wrote defense attorney Christopher Davis. “And if the government is correct and Louvado made no observations, then Louvado lied as to his role in the investigation.”

The government said numerous other officers would have testified to the truthfulness of statements in Louvado’s affidavits, and that if they were thrown out, prosecutors simply would have obtained new warrants using the same probable cause statements, sworn to by another officer.

“The government’s cavalier attitude is nothing less than shocking,” Davis wrote in a Jan. 24 filing.

The two other officers who stole the cocaine in 2009 with Louvado are Keith Gladstone and Victor Rivera. Gladstone has pleaded guilty to other charges related to the 2014 planting of a BB gun at a scene where Jenkins had run someone over with his car. He has not been sentenced. Rivera was sentenced to 14 months in prison last month.

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