Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Baltimore police commissioner faces federal charges

“There is no excuse for my failure to fulfill my obligations as a citizen and public official.”

Shortly after federal prosecutors charged Baltimore Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa with three counts of failing to file his tax returns, he issued a public apology while accepting responsibility for his crimes. Although he did not confess to the misdemeanors prior to the mayor appointing him to police commissioner earlier this year, Mayor Catherine Pugh expressed full confidence in his leadership and has not suspended him from office.

According to the information, De Sousa willfully failed to file a federal return for tax years 2013, 2014, and 2015, despite having been a salaried employee of the Baltimore Police Department in each of those years. In a recent statement, he also admitted that he failed to file state taxes during those years and received an extension for 2017.

According to charging documents, De Sousa earned $93,104 in 2013, $101,985 in 2014, and $127,089 in 2015 while working for the Baltimore Police Department. As police commissioner, he currently earns a salary of $210,000 a year.

“There is no excuse for my failure to fulfill my obligations as a citizen and public official,” he said in a statement. “My only explanation is that I failed to sufficiently prioritize my personal affairs.”

“As Commissioner De Sousa has explained, he made a mistake in not filing his taxes for the years in question. He is working to resolve this matter and has assured me that he will do so as quickly as possible,” Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said in a statement Thursday. “I have full confidence in Darryl De Sousa in his capacity as Commissioner of the Baltimore Police Department and trust that he will continue to focus on our number one priority of reducing violence.”

In January, Pugh fired Commissioner Kevin Davis and replaced him with then-Deputy Commissioner De Sousa. As violent crimes increased in Baltimore under Davis, he also oversaw much of the aftermath involving riots and protests against the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray Jr. in police custody.

While “extremely disappointed” with De Sousa, Councilman Brandon Scott said, “He knows that at this moment the city does not need any distractions from the reduction of violence in the city and repairing the relationship between the community and the Police Department.”

“Naturally, this is a source of embarrassment for me and I deeply regret any embarrassment it has caused the Police Department and the city,” De Sousa said in his statement. “I accept full responsibility.”

De Sousa faces a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a $25,000 fine for each of the three counts. His initial court appearance has not been scheduled.

“However, it’s a much bigger problem that he didn’t reveal this issue himself before he was hired as Police Commissioner,” Del. Luke Clippinger asserted in a statement. “It goes directly to his credibility as a police officer, much less as Commissioner, that he took the job knowing he was in violation of federal law. It was a willful omission of a material fact as he applied for a job that demands the public’s trust.”

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