BCPD Det. Carmine Vignola, left, shown with his lawyer Gary Proctor, pled guilty for making false statements to a grand jury relating to the GTTF investigation.
Baltimore Police detective Carmine Vignola pleaded guilty Monday to lying to a federal grand jury, admitting that he helped retrieve a BB gun to plant and cover up for the leader of the rogue Gun Trace Task Force.
A 12-year veteran of the force, Vignola is the 14th man — 10 of them Baltimore cops — ensnared in the sweeping police corruption scandal. Eight officers from the elite gun squad are in federal prison serving sentences ranging from seven to 25 years.
Vignola and his commander, Sgt. Keith Gladstone, did not serve in the gun squad. Prosecutors, however, accused them of planting the BB gun to justify a wrongful arrest by Sgt. Wayne Jenkins, the squad’s leader.
With his guilty plea Monday, Vignola faces a sentence ranging from probation to five years in federal prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced in December.
Vignola was reserved inside the courtroom, answering questions from District Court Judge Catherine C. Blake with only a “yes” or “no."
The cover-up took place on March 26, 2014. Vignola and Gladstone were on-duty having dinner when Jenkins called in a panic, records show.
Jenkins had been in a car chase with a man named Demetric Simon. Simon jumped out and started running before Jenkins ran him over in the front yard of a home in Northwest Baltimore.
Gladstone asked if Vignola had a BB gun, but the detective did not. Vignola called his partner and learned his partner had a BB gun at home. Vignola and Gladstone drove to the house, picked up the BB gun then went to meet Jenkins at the scene, according to the indictment.
“Once there, K.G. [Gladstone] exited the vehicle and headed toward the scene of the accident. Vignola exited the vehicle but remained near it. K.G. subsequently returned to he car without the BB gun, and he and Vignola left the scene," prosecutors wrote in the indictment.
Prosecutors say Vignola and Gladstone planted the BB gun to justify Jenkins’ actions in running down Simon.
Crime scene technicians recovered the BB gun and Simon was arrested and taken to the hospital. Police found drugs on him, according to court records. Nearly one year later, the charges against Simon were dropped.
After prosecutors indicted members of the Gun Trace Task Force, Gladstone and Vignola met in a YMCA swimming pool — to ensure they were safe from a recording wire — to get their stories straight in January 2018. One month later, Vignola testified before the grand jury and lied.
He said his partner didn’t have a BB gun, and they never went to his partner’s home that night.
Judge Blake said Vignola “falsely minimized [his] involvement” and that his statements led to inaccurate information being used in Gladstone’s indictment.
There was no agreement as to the terms of the sentence, as Blake said part of the plea agreement is the two sides are free to argue whatever they feel is an appropriate sentence.
While Vignola had no criminal history prior to the charge, Blake noted prosecutors can argue for a longer sentence based on federal guidelines outlining harsher penalties for public figures like police officers.