The Department of Justice recently reported that a former bail bondsman has been sentenced to five years in federal prison for his role in a drug distribution conspiracy with Baltimore Police officers. According the plea agreement the 51-year old defendant from the Middle River area of Baltimore County stole drugs, cash and jewelry from citizens between 2015 and 2017. He also obtained significant quantities of narcotics from a former Baltimore Police sergeant who is currently serving a 25-year sentence for racketeering, robbery, falsification of records and public corruption. Court documents alleged that the sergeant would repeatedly steal or confiscate narcotics during the course of his duties as a police officer. The sergeant would then deliver the drugs to the bail bondsman, who would store them on his property until he and other co-conspirators were able to sell them. In some instances the bail bondsman tagged along with the police sergeant during raids and searches. All told the bail bondsman netted hundreds of thousands of dollars from the illegal drug sales, which were divided among the numerous corrupt officers that helped facilitate the scam.
Multiple law enforcement organizations participated in this investigation including the FBI and the Baltimore County Police Department. Investigators likely received a great deal of information about this case from co-defendants looking to receive a break from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, but the case was made after the execution of a search warrant at the bail bondsman’s home yielded over 400 grams of crack, 200 grams of cocaine, 14 grams of heroin, MDMA, cash and expensive jewelry. Luckily for the defendant no firearms were found during the execution of the warrant, as the presence of guns could have resulted in a much harsher sentence. Federal sentencing guidelines provide harsher penalties for certain gun crimes than Maryland state sentencing guidelines, and many of these offenses carry mandatory prison time.
The bail bond industry in Maryland has been hit hard by reforms mandated by the Court of Appeals and the state legislature. Judges are no longer permitted to impose exorbitant bail amounts unless doing so would be the least restrictive means to assure the defendant’s return to court. Bail in any amount may not be used as a means to protect the community while a defendant is pending trial, as this is now the responsibility of pre-trial services. Obviously, this case was not directly related to bail reform, but one is left to wonder whether tough financial times motivated this defendant to engage in illegal activities.
The Blog will continue to follow this case and others involving public corruption. As always we will pay particular attention to police misconduct in and outside of Baltimore City. Federal prosecutors will continue to utilize their wide array of law enforcement resources to prosecute corruption to the highest degree. These cases are typically investigated by the FBI, but it’s the lawyers who are the ones calling the shots. In the past five years alone we have witnessed dozens of police and correctional officers prosecuted in federal court, and the hope is the media attention these cases produce will deter future public corruption.