The leader of the Baltimore Police Department’s corrupt Gun Trace Task Force pleaded guilty to racketeering and other charges Friday morning, admitting to a wide range of new crimes, including dirt bike thefts and re-selling stolen prescription drugs looted during the 2015 riots.
The plea agreement of former Sgt. Wayne Jenkins, 37, of Middle River broadened the scope of what federal prosecutors have called a criminal enterprise operating behind the authority of the badge.
Jenkins admitted to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and drugs, while using an associate to re-sell marijuana and cocaine and splitting the profits. Documents outline Jenkins using illegal GPS devices to track people he suspected of having money, and entering premises without a warrant to see what was inside — a practice the officers called “sneak and peek.”
Jenkins, who remains in jail, faces a minimum of 20 years in prison and a maximum of 30 years.
He told U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake that he was “ashamed” of his actions, according to his defense attorney, Steve Levin.
“He’s relieved that today, finally and publicly, he was able to accept responsibility for his conduct,” Levin said outside the courthouse.
His 28-page plea agreement added to the shocking revelations about rogue police conduct in Baltimore that has already led to hundreds of dropped cases and people wrongfully imprisoned, and dozens of civil claims filed against the city. Eight Baltimore police officers have been charged, including Jenkins’ predecessor as the supervisor of the unit, as well as a former city officer who was working for the Philadelphia Police Department when he was arrested.
In one case, Jenkins admitted that he stole and resold about 50 pounds of “high-grade” marijuana that had been intercepted by police in the mail. In another case, he got word of a car that police searched and found more than $35,000 in, but the driver was let go because nothing illegal was found. Jenkins put an illegal GPS tracker on the car and had an associate break into it while it was unoccupied and steal the cash.
When Blake asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Leo Wise about restitution to victims, Wise responded that the government was still trying to grasp the scope of the crimes, noting that an FBI dive team had located stolen watches that were “under water.”
Jenkins also admitted to being involved with planting drugs on a man in 2010, setting up Detective Sean Suiter, who prosecutors say was oblivious to the fact they had been planted, to find them. Suiter was killed one day before he was set to testify before a federal grand jury about the incident, which raised the intrigue around the only on-duty fatal shooting of a Baltimore police officer in the department’s history to go unsolved. But police and the federal government have said they know of no connection between his death and Suiter’s pending grand jury testimony.
As Blake read the account of the planting of the drugs, Jenkins’ defense attorney clarified that Jenkins did not personally plant the drugs.
“He was aware that another officer planted drugs — and he knowingly wrote a false report,” Levin said in an interview.
It was not revealed who is believed to have planted the drugs. In the indictment, federal prosecutors wrote that Jenkins had told another officer to call a sergeant who was not at the scene “because he had the ‘stuff' or ‘s—t’ in his car,” referring to drugs to be planted. Ryan Guinn, the other officer at the scene, was suspended by the Police Department after the allegations arose Nov. 30, but has since been restored to full duty. The identity of the sergeant is unknown; however, Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said he retired from the force in 2012.
In a filing Thursday, federal prosecutors called the investigation “ongoing” and said there were “additional targets.”
In addition to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash from suspects, Jenkins admitted in his plea to an ongoing scheme to re-sell cocaine and marijuana through an unidentified “associate” that netted another $200,000 to $250,000.
The associate who worked with Jenkins to re-sell drugs was identified only by his initials — “D.S.” No one with those initials has been publicly charged in the case. The plea agreement also reiterated previous claims that Jenkins was tipped off to the investigation of his unit by a city assistant state’s attorney and a police officer, who have not been identified.
Levin said Jenkins was “extremely remorseful.”
Federal prosecutors and two co-defendants who have pleaded guilty have painted a different picture. Prosecutors said after the officers were arrested on March 1, 2017, Jenkins “directed the defendants to ‘keep their mouths shut’ and ‘stick to the story,’ ” referring to videos he and the other officers had made that contained “false reenactments of the events the defendants participated in.”
Detective Momodu Gondo, who has pleaded guilty in the case, testified in a federal drug trial last fall that Jenkins “was like an animal, just going about investigations the wrong way.”
Levin said Jenkins served honorably in the Marine Corps and then the Baltimore Police Department for a number of years.
“He and others were responsible for seizing hundreds if not thousands of illegal firearms and getting them off the streets of Baltimore City. At some point, regrettably, something changed,” Levin said. “Whether that’s a result of something that happened during his time in the military, something during his time in the Police Department, or as a result of the death of his son, remains uncertain.”
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The case may be the biggest corruption scandal to hit the department. The alleged crimes took place during a federal civil rights review of the Police Department, and stretch back years to when some of the officers were in other units in different parts of the city.
The fallout from the indictments has included hundreds of dropped court cases that relied on the word of the officers, with the public defender’s office saying thousands of cases have been compromised.
Two detectives are set to go to trial later this month, Detectives Daniel Hersl and Marcus Taylor, have pleaded not guilty and plan to contest the charges against them.
Jenkins’ plea agreement outlines various crimes previously alleged in indictments, but provides additional insight into the role his associate “D.S.” played. For example, prosecutors have previously alleged that in March 2016 Jenkins and three other officers stole $200,000 from a man’s safe after pulling him over and taking his house key and driver’s license to find his address. In addition to the cash, Jenkins admitted he stole two kilograms of cocaine and called “D.S.” and gave him the drugs to sell. “D.S. sold the 2 kilograms, over time, for $30,000 and gave Jenkins $15,000,” the plea agreement says.
Before that, in the spring of 2015, Jenkins and two other officers interrupted a drug sale and took cash and 30 pounds of marijuana. He gave the marijuana to “D.S.,” who sold the drugs for $2,000 per pound and gave Jenkins $30,000.
In addition to the cash thefts, Jenkins and members of the gun task force regularly filed for overtime pay that was unearned.
“The practice at the GTTF was that if a sub-set of the GTTF had a gun arrest, all members of the GTTF, regardless of whether they had actually participated in the arrest, would submit individual overtime reports, as if they did,” the plea agreement says.