Baltimore police officer Daniel Redd was sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court to 20 years in federal prison for dealing drugs, bringing a close to a years-long probe into corruption accusations against the Northwest Districtveteran.
Redd's sentence came as part of a plea deal on charges that stemmed from wiretapped phone conversations of drug transactions between February and May of 2011.
Prosecutors alleged that Redd and a Ghanaian man named Tamim Mamah, also known as Abdul Zakaria, headed a drug organization that imported drugs from West Africa.
"Using a police officer's badge and gun to commit crime is a particularly egregious threat to the community." Timothy P. Groh, acting FBI special agent in charge of the Baltimore field office, said in a statement. "It should serve as a warning that local, state, and federal agencies are working together to root out those that would hide behind a position of authority to break the law, and bring them to justice."
On March 2, 2011, Redd met with Mamah to obtain 40 grams of heroin while dressed in full uniform and carrying his service weapon, according to his plea agreement. Four days later, prosecutors said, Redd protected another member of the conspiracy while she sold heroin to a customer.
According to previous court filings, Redd was armed and ready to intervene if either the police or a stick-up crew showed up.
Then, at the end of March, Redd provided 200 grams of heroin to Mamah in the parking lot of the Northwest District police station, according to his plea agreement.
Mamah was arrested May 13, 2011, and Redd on July 19, 2011.
Though other officers were investigated in the Redd probe, only he was charged. Outgoing FBI special agent in charge Richard McFeely told The Baltimore Sun in a recent interview that the fact that others weren't charged does not mean that the case is over.
"It doesn't mean we don't have evidence," said McFeely, who has since left to take on a bigger role at FBI headquarters. "The investigation is still ongoing on multiple fronts. There's people who have cooperated. [Baltimore police] internal affairs guys are tied in close to the hip with us."
Redd's plea included an agreed-upon sentence, so Wednesday's hearing was a formality. He appeared in a red prison jumpsuit and made no statements. He pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to distribute a kilogram or more of heroin, and using a gun in a drug crime.
"He's obviously very sorry that he breached the public's trust," defense attorney Sean Vitrano said after the hearing. "It's conduct unbecoming of a 17-year veteran of the Police Department."
Co-defendants Mamah, 38; Malik Jones, 42; Dyrell Garrett, 34; and Shanel Stallings, 33, all previously pleaded guilty to their participation in the conspiracy.
Though proceedings in Mamah's case have been sealed, prosecutors said he and Jones were each sentenced to 48 months in prison, Garrett was sentenced to 37 months in prison, and Stallings was sentenced to 30 months in prison.
Redd's case and others involving police corruption, such as a kickback scandal in which police steered clients to a body shop, raised questions about the pervasiveness of misconduct within the department's ranks.
Former police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III stressed that the arrests proved police take such allegations seriously and are determined to root out misconduct, but the cases also highlighted problems involving internal supervision and conduct.
"I commend the Baltimore Police officers that initiated this investigation and our federal partners who worked so hard to help send a clear message that corruption will not be tolerated among the ranks of the Baltimore Police Department," Acting Commissioner Anthony Barksdale said in a statement.
There was fallout for others as well — Maj. Nathan Warfield, who was in charge of the Police Department's internal investigations unit at the time, was moved from his post after pictures surfaced showing him at a party with Redd, displaying basketball trophies together.
Warfield, who was not charged or implicated in the case, retired not long after. For his replacement, the agency reached outside and hired a Homeland Security official and retired DEA agent, Grayling Williams.
The Redd case has tentacles into several others in federal court that highlighted a growing effort by authorities to cut off a supply route involving drugs to the area through Ghana from source countries such as Afghanistan.
Another case, the indictment of Northwest Baltimore car dealer Sam Brown, also has connections to the Redd case.
Brown, who appeared in the photographs with Warfield and Redd, pleaded guilty Tuesday to a single count of intending to deal heroin.
In Redd's case, the officer was caught on wiretaps speaking to Mamah in coded language, sometimes while he was on duty as a police officer.
At one point, Mamah asked Redd, "Did your brother like the car?" which investigators said was code referring to heroin.
Other times, the meaning of their conversations was plain. At one point apparently frustrated by the meager profits of the deal, Redd told Mamah, "I get a little piece and you get the whole shabangin."