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Crime

FBI investigating Dunbar High School football coach, Baltimore School Police detective Lawrence Smith

The FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office for Maryland’s public corruption unit are investigating Dunbar High School head football coach and Baltimore City School Police Detective Lawrence Smith, according to three people with knowledge of the situation.

On Wednesday, FBI agents went to public school headquarters on North Avenue and retrieved Smith’s timecards and salary records, a source with knowledge of the agency visit told The Baltimore Sun.

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Smith has been a school resource officer since 2002 and made almost $168,000 in fiscal year 2021, including $94,484 in overtime pay, according to publicly available salary records. He is paid $32.38 per hour, and with overtime pay at time-and-a-half, Smith would have had to average more than 37 hours of overtime a week to make that much in extra wages.

Smith was the highest paid school police officer in Baltimore for that fiscal year, making about $20,000 more than the next highest paid officer.

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Smith’s pay may include compensation for coaching. He earned an additional $10,959 above hourly wages and overtime, according to school system records.

City schools, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office all declined comment.

School police union president Clyde Boatwright said he had “no knowledge” of the investigation into Smith.

Smith has not been criminally charged.

Smith did not return phone calls or texts seeking comment. At his home in Perry Hall, someone, speaking through a doorbell camera Friday afternoon, said “sorry, not interested” when asked to comment about the federal investigation.

The investigation into Smith is focusing in part on possible timecard and overtime fraud, similar to federal prosecutors’ investigation into overtime fraud with the Baltimore Police Department’s Gun Trace Task Force, said people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The government’s investigation into Smith has been operating in the background for weeks, if not months, and spurred from a criminal referral from a Maryland state agency, according to a person with knowledge.

In addition to his duties as a school resource officer, Smith has been a highly successful football coach at Dunbar High School since starting there in 2007. His Dunbar Poets teams have won seven state championships and Smith holds a 155-24 record in 14 seasons as coach.

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Twice the Baltimore Ravens have named Smith the High School Coach of the Year, the only two-time winner of the award.

School officials suspended Smith one year from coaching at the start of the 2014 season after an investigation into a 2013 hazing incident in the junior varsity football locker room. At that time, Smith was stationed at Dunbar as the school resource officer, but was transferred out.

When asked in 2014 why he was transferred and whether it had anything to do with hazing allegations, he said: “I can’t discuss that.”

He appealed his suspension in court and a judge reinstated him as coach before the end of that season.

News of the investigation into Smith comes days after four Baltimore City school police officers were placed on desk duty after witnessing a fatal quadruple shooting early Sunday morning. At least one of the officers was injured during the incident, according to a union representative.

Officials have not specified why the officers were removed from their regular duties after witnessing the homicide in the 5500 block of Harford Road in the Hamilton Hills neighborhood of Northeast Baltimore.

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The school police have their own department, union and contract with the city school system through a memorandum of understanding with the Baltimore Police Department.


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