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Acting Baltimore police commissioner says leaked memo about candidate for deputy is false

Baltimore police officials have determined that an internal memo purporting to outline past complaints against a retired officer whom Acting Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa planned to appoint as deputy commissioner is false, De Sousa said Saturday.

The memo caused the commissioner to put the appointment on hold Friday, one day after announcing it and other top staffing decisions.

De Sousa made the announcement in an emailed statement to reporters on Saturday evening, in which he wrote that what "occurred" — an apparent reference to the leak of the false document — "was completely unfortunate and unfair" and that the Police Department is "investigating how incorrect information was provided to me and how that information was publicly disseminated."

The statement did not say whether Thomas Cassella, the appointee, is again being considered for the deputy commissioner position, and De Sousa could not be reached for comment.

The statement also did not say whether the department has any knowledge of the origins of the document and the false information or how it was leaked.

Cassella, a 23-year veteran of the Baltimore Police Department who retired as a major in 2007 and went into the private security sector, most recently working as director of security at Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore, declined to comment when reached by phone late Saturday.

De Sousa first announced Cassella's appointment as deputy commissioner of operations, a key role overseeing the day-to-day work of thousands of officers, in an interview Thursday with The Baltimore Sun.

Later Thursday, the local television station Fox 45 published the internal memo, which purportedly listed past complaints against Cassella from his time on the police force. One of those purported complaints, which read "Sustained" next to it, summarized an alleged Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint from 2006.

The document said an officer had alleged Cassella had discriminated against him and created a "hostile work environment." The memo was dated Jan. 26, and addressed to De Sousa from Office of Professional Responsibility Chief Rodney Hill.

De Sousa's statement on Saturday made clear that there is no such sustained discrimination complaint against Cassella. "There are no sustained complaints against him involving race, religion, sex, or any other type of discrimination," De Sousa wrote.

T.J. Smith, a police spokesman, declined to comment on Saturday evening.

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