Jury convicts Baltimore Police lieutenant of taking unearned pay while at home on Eastern Shore

A Baltimore police lieutenant was found guilty Monday by a city jury after prosecutors said he was at home on the Eastern Shore when he was taking pay for overseeing the downtown casino district.

Steven Bagshaw, 45, was convicted Monday of theft over $1,000 and misconduct in office. The 21-year veteran was charged with taking unearned pay last spring, even as officials pledged greater scrutiny of overtime pay in the wake of the federal indictments against seven officers accused of stealing overtime earlier in the year.

Bagshaw’s defense attorney, Chaz Ball, told jurors in closing arguments Monday that prosecutors hadn’t proven that Bagshaw wasn’t working during the time he was observed at home in Queenstown. There were administrative duties Bagshaw could have been performing, Ball said.

“If the state doesn’t know, how can you?” he asked.

But Assistant State’s Attorney Staceyann Llewellyn countered that a whistleblower turned internal affairs investigators on to Bagshaw, saying he was “never where he was supposed to be.”

“It was accurate,” Llewellyn told jurors. “He was never at work.”

Baghshaw made $169,000 in fiscal year 2017 on a base salary of $106,000.

During a roughly six-week period in which Bagshaw was monitored by investigators, they concluded that Bagshaw was paid more than $8,600 for time he was not working, which included regular and overtime shifts, police wrote in charging documents.

Llewellyn said the police department’s time sheet system relied on the “honor system,” with little or no oversight from superiors.

A juror, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, said the case showed major problems with the way police regulated pay.

The misconduct-in-office count “was hardest because, despite [the] theft, jurors felt he was left without proper oversight and was failed by the system,” the juror said.

The the practice of random sergeants’ signing the overtime slip of a superior lieutenant is “ripe for abuse,” he added.

Jurors acquitted Bagshaw of a third count of unauthorized use of an official vehicle. The juror who spoke to The Sun said there wasn’t sufficient evidence that take-home care privileges had been revoked by the department.

The theft conviction carries a maximum possible sentence of five years in prison. There is no set penalty for misconduct in office, which is a “common law” crime. Sentencing is set for May 9.

State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby said in a statement that the conviction was “yet another example of our agency’s commitment to weeding out corruption and pursuing justice no matter the individuals race, gender, creed or occupational status.”

Police said Bagshaw remains suspended without pay, and now will face possible internal discipline.

In recent months, the Baltimore Police Department has said it plans to require officers to scan their fingerprints at the start and end of shifts to prove they’ve worked the hours claimed on their payslips. Police also recently introduced more stringent guidelines that require all overtime to be pre-approved.

Bagshaw was charged less than three months after the Gun Trace Task Force indictment revealed rampant and casual abuse of overtime pay. At the trial in that case in January, convicted officers testified that they were rewarded with paid days off for getting guns, regularly manipulated timesheets by coming in at the end of their regular shifts, and put down more overtime hours than were worked.

The officers were arrested on March 1, 2017, and Mayor Catherine E. Pugh ordered an audit of overtime pay.

Investigators began conducting surveillance on Bagshaw later that month. At one point they observed him at his home on the Eastern Shore using a department vehicle that he was not authorized to take home, according to court records.

Using license plate-reading records and GPS technology, police monitored Bagshaw and determined he would "routinely report to work many hours late and/or leave many hours early, sometimes missing entire regular hour shifts or entire overtime shifts."

About $1,420 of the $8,600 Bagshaw received during the period he was being investigated was paid for by the Horseshoe Casino, which the city bills for secondary employment for officers who work the casino district, records show.

jfenton@baltsun.com

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