Seven Baltimore police officers who served in a high-profile gun unit were indicted Wednesday on federal racketeering charges — allegations that throw into question scores of cases aimed at getting weapons off the streets.
The officers are accused of shaking down citizens, filing false court paperwork and making fraudulent overtime claims, all while Justice Department investigators were scrutinizing the department for what they concluded was widespread civil rights violations.
One of the officers was also accused in a separate indictment of participating in an illegal drug organization and tipping its members off to investigations.
U.S. Attorney for Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein said the Drug Enforcement Administration began looking at the officers about a year ago while investigating the drug organization. The probe eventually involved the FBI and electronic surveillance — including a recording device placed in a Baltimore police vehicle.
The officers were summoned to internal affairs Wednesday morning and arrested. They were identified as Sgt. Wayne Jenkins, 36, and Detectives Momodu Gondo, 34; Evodio Hendrix, 32; Daniel Hersl, 47; Jemell Rayam, 36; Marcus Taylor, 30; and Maurice Ward, 36.
Mayor Catherine Pugh said federal officials told her the indictments “would not have happened … without the leadership of Commissioner Davis,” who she said received a confidence boost from her.
Some of the officers have long been accused of using excessive force or of other wrongdoing. The city has paid out more than $500,000 in settlements in cases involving the officers, according to a review by The Baltimore Sun.
Members of the city’s state legislative delegation called for a federal investigation into Rayam in 2009 after he was involved in three shootings over the course of two years. The city has settled multiple lawsuits involving Hersl.