A drug-dealing Baltimore County bail bondsman who helped bring down a corrupt city police sergeant was sentenced to five years in prison Friday afternoon.
Donald C. Stepp, 52, was arrested with drugs in December and went on to reveal to authorities his extensive criminal dealings with Baltimore Police Gun Trace Task Force Sgt. Wayne Jenkins. He provided videos, photos, drugs and stolen watches that were linked back to robberies committed by Jenkins’ rogue police unit.
With Stepp facing a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence for the drugs recovered at his Middle River home, prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake to go below that level as a nod to his cooperation. But Assistant U.S. Attorney Derek Hines said Stepp still needed to face consequences for his actions, and requested a seven-year sentence.
Stepp pleaded with Blake to spare him prison time, saying he had turned his life around and noting what his lawyer called an “extraordinary” family situation disclosed to the court under seal.
“There’s way more good in me than bad,” Stepp said. “I’ll amaze you if you give me that chance.”
Blake said she was in no position to give Stepp the relief he was seeking, and sentenced him to five years followed by another five years of supervised probation.
“That’s when you’ll prove to me this will never happen again,” she said of the probation term.
Stepp, who owned Double D Bail Bonds, said Jenkins approached him in 2012 about selling drugs that he’d taken off the streets as an officer. He testified that Jenkins brought drugs to his home on a near-nightly basis, dropping them off in a shed on Stepp’s property or asking him to open the garage for a particularly large haul. After the riots following the death of Freddie Gray, Jenkins brought garbage bags full of looted pharmaceutical drugs to Stepp’s home, he said.
He estimated that he made $1 million selling the drugs, with Jenkins receiving a $250,000 cut.
Defense attorney Marshall Henslee said Stepp’s cooperation was broader than has been disclosed.
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Stepp “not only cooperated fully and extensively in the Gun Trace Task Force prosecution, but also provided information about other crimes and stood ready to testify in other cases, should he have been needed,” Henslee told the court.
In his comments to the court Friday, Stepp said he had been haunted by the story of a woman who died of a drug overdose in Harford County in 2011. The investigation into her death helped authorities take down a Northeast Baltimore drug crew, which in turn led to the discovery of the Gun Trace Task Force’s corruption when Detective Momodu Gondo was caught on the wiretap.
Stepp said he believed the woman “saved his life.” He also told Blake that in the months before the indictment, he believed Jenkins might harm him.
Eight officers from the Gun Trace Task Force unit were charged and convicted of racketeering. Jenkins, the supervisor of the unit at the time of the indictments, is serving a 25-year prison sentence, the most of the group.
Stepp was among several people linked to the squad who also were charged. A trial is pending for a Philadelphia police officer charged for his alleged role receiving drugs from Detective Jemell Rayam, who along with Gondo has not been sentenced.
In noting the harm inflicted by Stepp’s cocaine dealing, Hines showed recently released statistics showing the skyrocketing overdose rates in the city.
Stepp said he knows the toll all too well: His adult daughter died three weeks ago from an overdose after a long battle with substance abuse.