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Another Baltimore police officer charged in GTTF case; he’s accused of lying to grand jury about planted BB gun

Federal prosecutors have charged yet another Baltimore Police detective in their sprawling investigation of the corrupt Gun Trace Task Force, alleging he made false statements to a grand jury about helping plant a BB gun near a man who had been deliberately run over by the rogue unit’s leader.

Detective Carmine Vignola, with the Baltimore Police since 2007, was charged by criminal information in U.S. District Court in Baltimore on Tuesday. Prosecutors alleged he lied to the grand jury about the BB gun being retrieved from another officer’s trunk, when Vignola actually drove with the other officer, Sgt. Keith Gladstone, to the home of a third officer to retrieve the BB gun.

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Prosecutors alleged that Vignola understood that Gladstone had retrieved the BB gun to plant it at the scene in “an attempt to justify” the decision by Sgt. Wayne Jenkins, the GTTF leader, to strike the man with his car.

Vignola could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday. Baltimore Police said Vignola was suspended with pay in March; Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said at that time that Vignola and several other officers were suspended for “knowing about” the incident. The department said Vignola’s pay was suspended Tuesday in light of the federal charge.

The Maryland U.S. Attorney’s office declined to comment.

“Vignola is due his day in court to defend himself, and we’re all looking for this chapter in the BPD to be over with,” said Sgt. Mike Mancuso, president of the union that represents rank-and-file officers in Baltimore.

Jenkins pleaded guilty in January 2018 to racketeering and other charges related to a wide-ranging criminal enterprise by the GTTF to profit by stealing drugs and cash from victims across the city, many of whom they stopped and searched while on duty and under the guise of conducting sanctioned police work. He was sentenced to 25 years behind in prison.

Gladstone pleaded guilty in May to one count of conspiracy to violate civil rights in relation to the 2014 incident involving the BB gun. He faces up to 10 years in prison.

The third officer, from whose home the BB gun was allegedly retrieved, has not been identified or charged with a crime.

The charges against Vignola hinge in part on a conversation he allegedly had with Gladstone in January 2018. The federal charging document alleges Gladstone advised Vignola to lie, if questioned about the 2014 incident by investigators working the GTTF case, by claiming that Gladstone had taken the BB gun from his own trunk — rather than saying Gladstone retrieved it from the third officer’s home.

Prosecutors alleged that Vignola then testified to that effect, constituting a “false material declaration,” before the grand jury.

Demetric Simon, the man Jenkins struck with his vehicle, has previously told The Baltimore Sun that he never had a weapon and was pleased officers involved in planting the BB gun near him were being held accountable.

“They took advantage of their power, their strength, their authority, and punish guys like me with a past,” Simon said.

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