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Feds say sting operation catches Baltimore police officer stealing

Sting operation involving fictitious drug dealer catches Baltimore Police officer stealing, feds say

A Baltimore police officer is accused of stealing $3,000 after investigators set up a sting in a hotel room, federal prosecutors said in a complaint that was unsealed Thursday.

Officer Maurice Lamar Jeffers of Savage, a 12-year veteran who was assigned to a fugitive task force, was charged with theft of government property and "converting property of another," prosecutors said.

A Baltimore police internal affairs detective who is part of an FBI corruption task force began investigating Jeffers in October after a woman said $2,200 had gone missing when members of the fugitive task force searched her boyfriend's home. Police said no cash was submitted as evidence after that search.

The complaint against Jeffers includes a list of previous allegations from his internal affairs file — records that state law ordinarily allows police to shield from the public. They show Jeffers had been accused of theft three previous times.

The first allegation came in 2005, the records show. The outcome of that case is listed as "unknown." In 2006 and 2011, Jeffers was accused of theft while making an arrest. Both cases are listed as "administratively closed."

The most recent allegation, made by the woman in October, is listed as pending.

Investigators say Jeffers was also accused in April 2010 of soliciting a prostitute while off-duty.

"Although the BPD was notified, the incident was not investigated," according to the court document. "BPD records reported the incident as 'administrative tracking only.'"

Attempts to reach Jeffers for comment were unsuccessful.

Additionally, the state court records database shows that Jeffers was criminally charged twice. In 2006 he was charged in Prince George's County with theft, but found not guilty. And in 1998, before he was a police officer, he was charged in Baltimore with first-degree assault and a handgun violation. Those charges were dropped by prosecutors.

In February, an internal affairs investigator approached a member of the task force about Jeffers. The member had not seen Jeffers commit any crimes, prosecutors said, but described his conduct as "suspicious."

The member said Jeffers always bought things using cash, and cashed paychecks rather than deposit them into a bank account.

Police officers and FBI agents staged a sting operation at the Executive Inn on Pulaski Highway on March 10, prosecutors said. Jeffers and members of his task force were told that a fictitious Prince George's County drug target was staying at the hotel, and they were told to secure the room so Prince George's County police could execute a search warrant.

Agents equipped the hotel room with audio and video surveillance, and placed $3,500 in cash around the room.

Jeffers told his partner that day to inform their sergeant that no one was in the room, prosecutors said. While the partner was away, prosecutors said, Jeffers was filmed placing money into his pockets.

David Lutz, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service, said the Police Department selected Jeffers for the fugitive task force and continued to supervise him.

"The task force wasn't aware of any allegations about him until approached by his Baltimore City supervision," Lutz said. "We participated fully in the investigation."

Jeffers faces a maximum of 10 years in prison for each of the two theft counts, prosecutors said. He made an initial appearance in U.S. District Court last week and was released pending trial.

jfenton@baltsun.com

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