Baltimore's Top Cop Charged With Failure to File Taxes - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Baltimore's Top Cop Charged With Failure to File Taxes

Posted: May 11, 2018 10:06 AM Updated:

BALTIMORE (AP)- Baltimore's police commissioner was charged Thursday with three misdemeanor counts of failure to file taxes, the latest embarrassment to rock the beleaguered force reeling from scandal to scandal.           

The U.S. Attorney's office alleged that Commissioner Darryl DeSousa "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."           

If the federal charges are proven, Baltimore's top cop faces a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a $25,000 fine for each of the three counts.           

In a statement, DeSousa admitted his failure to file federal and state taxes for those three years but portrayed it as an oversight. He said he filed his 2016 taxes and got an extension for 2017. He says he's now working with a "registered tax adviser."           

"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. Naturally, this is a source of embarrassment for me and I deeply regret any embarrassment it has caused the police department and the city of Baltimore," he said.           

By early evening, Mayor Catherine Pugh issued a brief statement saying DeSousa assured her that he's working to resolve the matter and she has "full confidence" in him.           

Baltimore Councilman Ryan Dorsey, the sole council member who voted against DeSousa at his February confirmation hearing, said he didn't believe he had enough information to understand the full scope of the case yet because some information remains under seal.           

"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 said.           

People in the city's activist circuit portrayed the federal charges facing DeSousa as a potent sign that Baltimore's leaders don't know what they are doing. DeSousa rose through the ranks of Baltimore's force to become commissioner this year following what Pugh described as a "complete" vetting process that included a review of shootings he was involved in 23 years ago.           

"So the feds say he missed taxes for three years. Now, if you vet a person the first thing you do is check out their money, correct?" said Duane "Shorty" Davis, a prominent figure in Baltimore's activist circles.           

DeSousa was touted as a change agent when Pugh picked him as commissioner, even though he joined the city's force in 1988. He succeeded former Commissioner Kevin Davis, who spent 2½ years at the top job. At the time, Pugh said a change in leadership was needed to oversee crime reduction strategies in the Mid-Atlantic city with an eye-popping violent crime rate.           

DeSousa has pledged to stamp out police corruption following an explosive federal investigation that exposed a task force of dirty detectives and deeply embarrassed the department already struggling with low morale and a serious public trust deficit.           

In recent months, the 53-year-old commander has launched an anti-corruption unit and introduced plans for random integrity and polygraph testing. He has also vowed to comply fully with a federal consent decree authorized in January 2017 after the U.S. Justice Department released a scathing report detailing longstanding patterns of racial profiling and excessive force within the department.           

During the Obama administration, the Justice Department began investigating the Baltimore police following the April 2015 death of Freddie Gray, a young black man who was fatally injured while in the custody of officers, leading to massive protests and Baltimore's worst riots in decades.           

While U.S. Attorney Robert Hur commended the IRS and the FBI for their work in the ongoing federal investigation, some Maryland residents said they couldn't quite believe the latest turn of events.           

"He should be held accountable and he should be penalized," said 49-year-old Phatteous Ward, a file clerk who commutes to his Baltimore job from Randallstown. "I think they need to fire everybody and start all over."

Lt. Gene Ryan, president of the local police union, told The Baltimore Sun that he couldn't comment on the ongoing investigation, as he wasn't familiar with "any of the circumstances behind these charges."           

"Obviously income taxes are a personal thing," Ryan told the newspaper. "We'll see how it pans out."

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