Baltimore prosecutor wants 790 ‘tainted’ convictions erased
BALTIMORE (AP) — Baltimore’s top prosecutor has begun asking judges to throw out nearly 800 convictions that she said were tainted by officers linked to a corruption scandal.
The Baltimore Sun reported Friday that State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s review found 790 criminal cases handled by 25 city officers whom she says she has reason to distrust. Mosby updated the number of officers being scrutinized on Friday, saying it could fluctuate as her office investigates.
Eight members of the Gun Trace Task Force were convicted of racketeering crimes and sentenced to prison. Many of the other 17 officers cited by Mosby’s office were named in testimony during the federal trial, though not necessarily charged with crimes. Mosby’s office hasn’t disclosed all of their names because of ongoing federal investigations.
The newspaper said three of the additional officers remain on the force, including a detective and two sergeants, citing confirmation from a department spokesman. One of the three has been suspended.
The police department didn’t immediately respond to an email Friday from the Associated Press seeking comment on the officers who remain on the force.
Mosby said in an email to the newspaper that “our legal and ethical obligation in the pursuit of justice leaves us no other recourse but to ‘right the wrongs’ of unjust convictions associated with corrupt police officers.”
Of the eight Baltimore officers sentenced to prison for racketeering charges, six accepted plea deals and two were convicted. Officers admitted to stealing money from people, lying in police paperwork and claiming unearned overtime pay. Officers found guilty also testified about potential wrongdoing by additional police officers who haven’t been charged.
Prosecutors spent more than a year reviewing thousands of arrests by the task force and identified the 790, most of which are older cases in which the defendants have already been released.
With expanded authorities under a new state law, Mosby’s staff will file 200 cases a week, with judges holding daily hearings to consider erasing bad convictions.
“It is still very early in the process, and we are hopeful for the swift vacatur of all of the many tainted convictions,” said Melissa Rothstein, spokeswoman for the Baltimore public defender’s office.
City Solicitor Andre Davis has said he’s concerned that many defendants could file lawsuits against the city.
Information from: The Baltimore Sun, http://www.baltimoresun.com