Former Baltimore Police Commissioner De Sousa to plead guilty in tax case next month

Former Baltimore Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa is scheduled to enter a guilty plea on federal tax charges next month, his attorney confirmed Thursday.

De Sousa stepped down in May, after just a few months as head of the department, when he was charged with three misdemeanor counts of failing to file a federal tax return.

Court records filed late Thursday showed a rearraignment hearing has been scheduled for Dec. 18. Defendants typically enter guilty pleas at such hearings.

Gerard Martin, De Sousa’s attorney, confirmed that De Sousa would be pleading guilty but declined to comment further.

De Sousa has previously admitted he did not file federal returns — or state taxes — for 2013, 2014 and 2015. He said he filed taxes for 2016 and received an extension for 2017.

“There is no excuse for my failure to fulfill my obligations as a citizen and public official,” he said in a statement in May. “My only explanation is that I failed to sufficiently prioritize my personal affairs.”

De Sousa faces as much as one year in prison and a $25,000 fine for each of the three counts.

The Police Department has had three commissioners this year. Kevin Davis was fired in January; De Sousa immediately ascended to his spot and was confirmed to the position weeks later. He stepped down in May, and interim Commissioner Gary Tuggle has held the position since then. Mayor Catherine Pugh has selected Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald to become the city’s next commissioner, pending confirmation by the city council.

De Sousa spent 30 years with the Baltimore Police Department.

The tax charges were brought by the same federal prosecutors investigating the Gun Trace Task Force scandal, Derek Hines and Leo Wise. De Sousa was initially suspended with pay, and Pugh initially said she would continue to support him before he eventually resigned.

Pugh continues to defend his selection. Last week, speaking at a church unity event just after confirming her selection of Fitzgerald, Pugh brought up De Sousa.

“When I hired Commissioner De Sousa, I knew I hired the right person. Now I can’t stand up for people’s personal lives, but I can tell you, no one was more strategic and focused,” she said. “I stand behind my decision.”

jfenton@baltsun.com

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