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Indicted Baltimore officer points to widespread misconduct in asking for pre-trial release

Attorneys for one of the seven Baltimore Police officers charged in a federal racketeering indictment say violations of civil rights are so pervasive in Baltimore that they are not a reason to detain their client pending trial.

Marcus Taylor and six other members of the Gun Trace Task Force were ordered detained after being indicted in late February on charges that included allegations of robbing citizens, filing false reports, and obtaining fraudulent overtime pay. The alleged crimes came amid a Justice Department investigation that found widespread violations of civil rights and which led to a consent decree.

In a motion asking for a review of the judge's detention order, attorneys Miriam Seddiq and Justin Eisele wrote that the Baltimore Police Department "has been the subject of allegations for lying, extortion and breach of public trust for decades."

"Unconstitutional and dishonest policing is system-wide at the BPD, and these systemic problems are not a reason to detain Mr. Taylor," they wrote.

The attorneys say "illegal searches are part of the BPD culture," and the allegations against Taylor show he was "not properly trained about what he could and could not do."

"The DOJ acts as if this case is a localized conspiracy of 7 police officers. It is not," they wrote.

Taylor is the least culpable of the officers charged, his attorneys argue. They say much of the evidence provided so far in the case comes from wiretapped conversations on Det. Momodu Kenton Gondo's phone, and specifically conversations between Gondo and Det. Jemell Rayam. "There are zero substantive calls between Gondo and Taylor," they say.

Federal prosecutors said other officers charged have been "involved in threats of death, drug dealing, and obstruction even from their jail call. Taylor has done none of those things," the defense attorneys wrote.

All of the officers have pleaded not guilty.

jfenton@baltsun.com

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