By Baynard Woods
The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced charges against Darryl De Sousa, the Baltimore Police Commissioner, on Thursday. Each of the three charges of failing to file tax returns carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a $25,000 fine. In a motion to seal, prosecutors note that “law enforcement continues to investigate the defendant for additional violations of federal criminal law.”
Leo Wise and Derek Hines, the same prosecutors who indicted eight members of the Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF), filed the charges against De Sousa for failing to file his federal tax returns in 2014, 2015, and 2016. The indictment became public the day before the first sentencing in the GTTF case, when Thomas Allers, who was not one of the original seven to be indicted, will receive his sentence.
De Sousa was confirmed by the City Council in February. Only one member of the City Council, Ryan Dorsey, voted against confirming De Sousa, despite warnings from activists that they should request more information.
“You cannot look at personnel records or medical records of any city employee,” City Council President Bernard “Jack” Young told Dorsey chidingly.
De Sousa cast his failure to file in terms of his commitment to the job. “While there is no excuse for my failure to fulfill my obligations as a citizen and public official, my only explanation is that I failed to sufficiently prioritize my personal affairs,” he wrote in a statement.
“I fully admit to failing to file my personal, Federal, and State taxes for 2013, 2014 and 2015. I did file my 2016 taxes and received an extension for my 2017 taxes. I have been working to satisfy the filing requirements and, to that end, have been working with a registered tax advisor.”
Mayor Catherine Pugh, who had just criticized a murdered 16-year old for having a criminal record, said she had confidence in De Sousa, noting both that he is “working to resolve this matter and has assured me he will do so as quickly as possible,” and that “he will continue to focus on the number one priority of reducing violence.”
Pugh has not had a strong record of vetting her appointments. Darryl Strange resigned as a spokesperson hired to “change the narrative” after less than a day on the job when the Baltimore Sun revealed that he had been involved in three lawsuits as a police officer, two of which had been settled.
“While that information continues to come to light, I feel the most productive discussion we can have in the meantime is one that focuses on the importance of thorough vetting and thoughtful confirmation procedures for such important public positions,” Dorsey, the sole councilmember to question De Sousa’s confirmation, wrote in a statement Wednesday. .
De Sousa is the third commissioner to hold the position since Frederick Bealefeld resigned in 2012. Activists questioned De Sousa’s involvement in three shootings in the 1990s and called for him to release his internal affairs files.
“I am very very curious here and concerned because this is not typical of the average citizen. Usually there is extensive communication with the IRS before being charged criminally with failure to file your taxes,” Neill Franklin, a former police commander and head of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership, told the Real News.
The millions of dollars stolen or received for stolen drugs in the Gun Trace Task Force case have not been located, but federal prosecutors told the Real News that they were committed to looking for it.
“Unfortunately a lot of the money was spent, it was spent in casinos, it was spent on vacations, it was spent in a variety of ways and so we’ll never be able to restitute all of the funds that were taken, but we’re absolutely committed to doing as much as we can to do that,” Wise said in February.
De Sousa has not been linked to the GTTF. There have also been ongoing efforts to root out overtime fraud, which some have said is prevalent in the department.
We will continue to update this story as it develops