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Former Philadelphia, Baltimore cop sentenced to 9 years in Gun Trace Task Force case

Former Philadelphia, Baltimore cop sentenced to 9 years in Gun Trace Task Force case
Former Philadelphia officer Eric Troy Snell was sentenced for his role in the Baltimore Police Gun Trace Task Force corruption case Friday. (Handout)

A former police officer in Philadelphia and Baltimore was sentenced to nine years in federal prison Friday afternoon for helping a member of the Gun Trace Task Force sell drugs taken off the street here.

Eric Troy Snell, 34, pleaded guilty last fall, three days into his trial in U.S. District Court. Former Gun Trace Task Force Detective Jemell Rayam testified that in 2016 he twice provided drugs to Snell, who arranged to sell the drugs in Philadelphia where relatives operated a “full service” drug shop, Assistant U.S. Attorney Derek Hines told jurors at the time.

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Prosecutors asked for twelve-and-a-half years. U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Blake said that while Snell’s crime was “very serious,” it did not compare to the conduct of other corrupt officers in the case, some of whom committed home invasions or committing robberies for years.

Eight former Baltimore Police officers were convicted in the Gun Trace Task Force case, which showed that a unit of officers was lying in sworn documents and stealing large amounts of cash and drugs from people they encountered on the streets. Officers have received sentences ranging from 25 years to 7 years. Snell is one of four additional people charged with helping the officers sell drugs or commit robberies.

Snell’s attorney, David Solomon, said Snell had acted as a “classic middleman” and as a conduit for two relatives who were selling drugs.

His wife, Chattrika Snell, said her husband was “everyone’s superhero” in the family. Pointing to a dozen female relatives in the audience, she said Snell had “wanted to change the notion of what a black man is” by being a positive male role model for his children and nephews without fathers. Snell sobbed loudly as his wife spoke.

Snell addressed Blake himself, saying that he took full responsibility for his actions and was deeply ashamed. But Blake later said she doubted that, referring to a statement Snell made that characterized his conduct as a “three-week mistake” that was the result of “giving in to a friend.” Text messages captured by prosecutors showed discussions with relatives about obtaining drugs and guns that dated back to 2014.

Snell worked in Baltimore from 2005 until 2008, bounced around several smaller law enforcement jobs, and was working as a Philadelphia officer at the time of his arrest.

When Snell was arrested, authorities found unregistered assault rifles, cocaine residue and razors in his home. He told FBI agents that a cash deposit he made into Rayam’s bank account was for a gambling loan.

Those illegal items and the statement to the agents were used to enhance Snell’s sentencing guidelines. But Blake denied other enhancements sought by the government — they previously accused Snell of making a threat toward Rayam’s children, which Snell has denied. Blake agreed with the defense Friday that the statement did not appear to be a threat.

Rayam is the only officer who has not yet been sentenced. Prosecutors said they will seek 12 years for him at his sentencing hearing next month.

Prosecutors brought new charges related to the police corruption case when they charged retired Sgt. Keith Gladstone last month with helping plant a BB gun at a crime scene in 2014 to justify a man being run down with a car.

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