Baltimore officers guilty in corruption saga short on heroes

Baltimore’s latest police corruption saga could be tough to sell as a TV crime drama, short on heroes and too extreme to attract loyal viewers.

Detectives in an elite unit praised for taking guns off the streets secretly dedicated themselves to shaking down citizens and hunting for “monsters” — bigtime drug dealers with loot to rob. Their leader, a sergeant with a golden-boy reputation and a sledgehammer approach to policing, kept actual sledgehammers — along with grappling hooks, black masks, even a machete — in duffel bags in his police-issued car.

Crossing the line from law enforcers to law breakers, members of the Gun Trace Task Force had become thugs with badges, stealing cash, reselling seized narcotics, sticking illegal GPS trackers on the cars of their robbery targets and lying under oath to cover their tracks.

Baltimore Police Dept. via AP
From left, Daniel Hersl, Evodio Hendrix, Jemell Rayam, Marcus Taylor, Maurice Ward, Momodu Gando and Wayne Jenkins, the seven Baltimore police officers who are facing charges of robbery, extortion and overtime fraud.

Task force members who pleaded guilty months ago hoping to shave time off their sentences revealed these and other jaw-dropping details as two of their colleagues insisted on going to trial. The result: A jury convicted Detectives Daniel Hersl and Marcus Taylor of robbery, racketeering, and conspiracy on Monday evening, and they face up to 20 years on each count.

Even in a city all too familiar with abuses by law enforcers, the fallout from these stories of police criminality has been bad so far and the scandal promises to get a whole lot worse for Baltimore’s already fragile criminal justice system.

Revealing police criminality stretching back to 2008, the four ex-detectives told jurors about everything from armed home invasions to staging fictitious crime scenes and routinely defrauding their department.

They testified that their supervisor, Sgt. Wayne Jenkins, a former amateur…

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