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Baltimore Police Commissioner De Sousa has not filed some mandatory ethics forms

Baltimore Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa — who was suspended Friday while he addresses federal charges alleging he failed to file tax returns — has only sporadically filed mandatory financial disclosures with the city’s ethics board.

Failure to file the disclosures is a violation of the city’s ethics code. Top city officials, including in the police department, are required to file the reports annually so the public can review assets and relationships that could pose potential conflicts of interest.

De Sousa, who was confirmed as police commissioner on Feb. 26, served in top positions for years before that. He was named chief of patrol in 2013 and then served as deputy commissioner before becoming the department’s chief.

Records maintained by Baltimore’s Board of Ethics do not show disclosures for De Sousa filed in 2014, 2017 or 2018. He did file in 2015 and 2016, the records show. The filings are required to be filed each year by April 30.

De Sousa was charged Thursday by the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s office with failing to file his federal tax returns for three years. He acknowledged he did not file those tax returns, as well as returns with the state — a lapse he blamed on his failure to “prioritize my personal affairs.”

Mayor Catherine Pugh on Friday placed De Sousa, who currently earns a $210,000 salary, on a paid suspension while he faces the charges.

Thaddeus Watulak, the city’s deputy ethics director, said failure to file a disclosure is typically resolved by charging late fees — which are $2 for each late day up to a cap of $250 — and notifying officials that they need to file. But Watulak said the board does have the authority to open a formal investigation.

De Sousa’s lawyers, the police department and the mayor’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

Officials are required to disclose their home addresses and any real estate ownership, details about any business interests and information about close family members’ employment. They also must reveal gifts they received from people who do business with the city and any financial relationships they have with entities that do business with the city.

The city’s salary database indicates De Sousa held a high enough position in the police department dating back to at least 2011 to require him to file annual disclosures. The ethics board holds records filed before 2014 on paper and could not immediately say whether De Sousa filed in 2012 and 2013. The only records the office currently maintains are those available online to the public, Watulak said.

The most recent disclosure for De Sousa was filed in April 2016 and says it covers the entire year of 2016. However, ethics rules instruct filers to disclose information from prior calendar years.

The form indicated he lived at an apartment building in Southeast Baltimore, and he checked a box saying he had “no reportable interests.”

His 2015 form listed an address at an Owings Mills apartment complex.

Neither form shows that he owned property.

Deputy Commissioner Gary Tuggle, who joined the department in March and is serving as acting commissioner while De Sousa is suspended, filed a disclosure on Friday with the ethics board.

Tuggle said Friday he was unaware he was required to fill out the form until the issue came up during discussions about being appointed acting commissioner. That’s when he filed it.

Records show that De Sousa’s predecessors, Kevin Davis and Anthony Batts, filed disclosures for the years available online.

iduncan@baltsun.com

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