Federal prosecutors and public defenders are asking a judge to release an admitted drug dealer serving a 24-year sentence because his case relied on testimony from two discredited members of the Baltimore Police Department’s corrupt Gun Trace Task Force.
Mickey Oakley, now 52, was arrested in 2008 by a group of Baltimore Police officers that included former detectives Wayne Jenkins and Daniel Hersl, and pleaded guilty to drug and gun charges. He has been in prison for 10 years.
Jenkins and Hersl are now in prison themselves after being convicted of federal racketeering charges.
Oakley admitted that he had drugs. But he was adamant in testimony and in an affidavit that the officers had lied about the circumstances leading to his apprehension and a search of his apartment.
“I came forth with the truth about the incident that happened, as far as what the officers had done,” Oakley said during his sentencing hearing in 2010. “I think that if I am held responsible for my actions, then the same should be with the officers for their wrongdoing.”
In a joint motion filed late Tuesday, Gun Trace Task Force prosecutors Leo Wise and Derek Hines and assistant federal public defender Paresh Patel ask a U.S. District Court judge to order Oakley’s release from prison and put him on five years of supervised probation. Oakley’s current release date is 2030.
Eight members of the Gun Trace Task Force have been convicted of federal racketeering charges for stealing from citizens, distributing drugs seized from dealers and taking overtime pay for hours they didn’t work.
Prosecutors have said that misconduct by the officers in the Gun Trace Task Force went on for years. Oakley’s case, which dates to 2008, is the oldest to come under scrutiny.
Oakley initially fought the drug and gun charges. His attorneys filed a motion to suppress evidence against him.
U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake denied the motion, saying that she found Hersl to be a “very credible witness” and said questions raised about Jenkins’ credibility were overridden by other evidence.
“Virtually all the other officers … would have to be inaccurate in their testimony if it is to be believed that Detective Jenkins was manufacturing information for the affidavit,” Blake said.
Oakley changed his plea to guilty, and Blake sentenced him to more than 24 years in prison.
Blake later oversaw the Gun Trace Task Force case.
Jenkins, the task force supervisor, was sentenced last month to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to racketeering charges.
He admitted stealing pharmaceutical drugs looted during the 2015 riots and selling dirt bikes that had been seized by police.
Officers who worked with him and cooperated with the government said they cut corners to pursue people they believed had guns and drugs, including “sneak and peek” searches without warrants.
Hersl did not deny taking money, but fought the charges against him. He was convicted by a jury and sentenced to 18 years in prison.
Oakley was arrested in February 2008. Jenkins testified at a hearing on the motion to suppress evidence that he had received information from a confidential source that Oakley had drugs, and Jenkins and a group of other officers went to conduct surveillance. Jenkins wrote in court papers that another officer, Ronnie Randolph, was watching Oakley and saw him carrying a paper bag believed to contain drugs. The officers then swooped in to make an arrest.
Randolph, on the witness stand in 2009, said he couldn’t remember seeing anything in Oakley’s hands.
“As we’re here today, could you remember one way or the other whether or not the defendant had anything in his hand when he exited the apartment building and got back in his car?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Cheryl Crumpton asked.
“I don’t recall,” Randolph testified.
Oakley admitted that he had 400 gel caps of heroin in a bag, but said it was hidden under his coat.
“I didn’t have anything in my hands,” he testified.
Jenkins testified that Oakley told him that he had more drugs and a couple of guns in his apartment, leading the officers to get a search warrant.
“At no time did I ever tell the police that there were guns and more drugs in the apartment I came from,” Oakley said in an affidavit. “What Det. Wayne Jenkins wrote in his affidavit for the search warrant was a complete fabrication. It is simply not true.”
Authorities tracked down Jenkins’ confidential informant last month, federal prosecutors wrote in their motion this week. The informant denied key parts of the account that Jenkins attributed to him or her, they said.
Police and Oakley gave widely differing descriptions of their interaction. Police said Oakley backed his car into a police car. Detective Terry Bell, one of the officers at the scene, affirmed that he heard Oakley tell Jenkins there were guns and drugs in the apartment.
Oakley said police ran into him from behind, pulled him out through a broken window and entered his apartment before obtaining a warrant.
Blake said at the time that crime scene pictures and Bell’s testimony made it “abundantly clear” that the incident happened as police described.
“I think for a number of reasons, this occurred the way the officers said and not the way Mr. Oakley has said,” Blake said.