Feds: Indicted gun task force officer planted drugs, duped Baltimore Det. Suiter into finding them


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 Feds: Indicted gun task force officer planted drugs, duped Baltimore Det. Suiter into finding them

A Baltimore police car moves past a mural depicting Freddie Gray after prosecutors dropped the remaining charges Wednesday against three Baltimore police officers awaiting trial in the death of Gray, in Baltimore, Wednesday, July 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Steve Ruark)New charges have been filed against an indicted member of the Baltimore Police gun task force, alleging that in 2010 he set up Det. Sean Suiter by planting drugs on a suspect after a high-speed chase and crash.

In a new indictment unsealed Thursday afternoon, prosecutors wrote that then-Detective Wayne Jenkins told a third officer that he was going to send “Officer #1” to search the car because he was “clueless” that Jenkins had planted drugs.

“Jenkins knew the heroin [in the car] had been planted,” prosecutors wrote.

Though Suiter is not named in the new documents, Jenkins wrote in charging documents filed in 2010 that Suiter found heroin in the car. The suspect, Umar Burley, was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison as a result of the charges.

Records show Burleys case was reactivated in August, and the records from the Bureau of Prisons inmate locator show Burley was released from custody that month, and prosecutors on Thursday filed a motion to vacate his conviction.

The Sun firstreported on the new activity in the Burley case last week.

Commissioner Kevin Davis said at a news conference that Suiter was “set up” by Jenkins to find the drugs, and was not involved “in any way, shape, or form.”

“Thats a damn shame,” Davis said.

Suiter, a decorated 18-year veteran, was killed in an alley on Nov. 15, and Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said federal authorities disclosed to him that Suiter was killed one day before he was scheduled to testify before a federal grand jury investigating the gun task force. Davis said he was told Suiter was not a target of the grand jury, and there was no evidence to suggest Suiter was set up or that his killing was related to his scheduled testimony.

But questions around two cases continue to swirl. Earlier Thursday, Council President Bernard “Jack” Young and Councilman Brandon Scott called on the Suiter case to be turned over to the FBI.

“An independently conducted investigation would be the quickest way to provide the public and those who loved Det. Suiter with the answers they rightly deserve,” Young and Scott wrote in a letter to Davis.

They also said it would allow members of the Baltimore homicide unit, which is investigating the case, “the chance to properly mourn their fallen comrade.”

Suiters death remains unsolved, despite a $215,000 reward. For now, it is the only line-of-duty killing in the agencys history that is unsolved, with suspects apprehended on the scene or quickly identified through tips in previous cases.

Federal authorities have continued to investigate allegations of misconduct surrounding Jenkins and other members of the Gun Trace Task Force, bringing additional charges in the case and adding defendants.

Jenkins, 37, has not entered a plea, but is tentatively scheduled to go to trial in January.

Jenkins was the supervisor in charge of the Gun Trace Task Force when federal authorities leveled a wide-ranging indictment that alleged the squad had been robbing citizens, falsifying court papers, and earning fraudulent overtime. Four officers in the case have pleaded guilty.

Since the indictment, prosecutors have continued to bring new allegations against the officers who have not entered guilty pleas, and have charged additional defendants.

The new indictment brings charges of “destruction, alteration or falsification of records in federal investigations,” and deprivation of rights under the color of law.

In addition to multiple racketeering counts, Jenkins also faced robbery and firearms charges.

Jenkins is being detained pending trial.

Charging documents in Burleys original case said Jenkins was conducting drug surveillance in a Northwest Baltimore neighborhood on April 28, 2010 when he saw a man holding cash get into Burleys vehicle. Jenkins and another officer riding with him, Det. Ryan Guinn, pulled in front of Burleys vehicle, and Suiter pulled behind. Burley took off at a high rate of speed, and the officers gave chase, Jenkins wrote.

Burley was able to elude the officers, but crashed into another vehicle. The 87-year-old father of a Baltimore Police officer died as a result of the crash.

Jenkins said “Suiter responded to the the Acura that was occupied by Mr. Burley and [Brent] Matthews as he recovered a total of approximately 32 grams of suspected heroin laying on the passenger side floor board.”

Prosecutors wrote in the new indictment that “there were no drugs in the car driven by [Burley] prior to the crash.”

After the crash, and after Burley and Matthews had been arrested, “Jenkins told [Guinn] to call a sergeant who was not at the scene because he had the stuff or [expletive] in his car, or words to that effect,” prosecutors wrote. Later, “Jenkins told [Guinn] that the stuff or [expletive] was in the car, referring to Burleys car, and that Jenkins was going to send [Suiter] to the car to find it because [Suiter] was clueless, or words to that effect.”

Jenkins later listened in on calls Burley and Matthews made while in jail. Jenkins told Guinn that “they were saying that the heroin recovered from the car had been planted on them.”

“Jenkins told [Guinn] that Jenkins could not testify if the case went to trial because something had been put in the car, or words to that effect, referring to the heroin that had been planted in [Burleys] car,” he said.

The Sun emailed Guinn seeking comment, and a police spokesman said the request to speak with him was denied.

Burley pleaded guilty in state court to manslaughter in the crash death and received 10 years. In the federal case, Burley initially contested the charges but pleaded guilty to a heroin possession charge and received 15 years. Matthews, the man allegedly seen getting into the car, also pleaded guilty and received 46 months in prison.

Burley was released from federal prison in August after prosecutors moved to reduce his sentence to time served. On Thursday, they asked that his conviction be vacated.

jfenton@baltsun.com

twitter.com/justin_fenton

By: Baltimore Sun

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