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Federal agents: Baltimore cop stole while on task force sting

A police officer, who served on the Baltimore police force for a dozen years, was arrested while taking part in a fake FBI sting set up in a Maryland hotel room. The arrest culminated a seven-month investigation into complaints about the veteran's behavior, conducted by an internal affairs detective who also worked for an FBI corruption task force.

The officer was accused of pocketing $3,000 -- nearly all the money FBI agents had planted in the hotel room for a nonexistent drug sting. The room was also wired for sound and video to monitor the officer's behavior. The defendant was charged with theft and converting property of another – the "another" being the federal government.

An investigation began after a civilian reported $2,200 mysteriously disappeared from her boyfriend's apartment during a search conducted by the defendant's task force. No cash was turned in to the city's evidence room.

Before October's accusation, there had been three other theft complaints, between 2005 and 2011, involving the same officer. Two internal affairs cases were closed and one was unresolved.

City police failed to follow up on a 2010 incident, involving the off-duty officer's alleged solicitation of a prostitute. The defendant was cleared of a 2006 theft charge in Prince George's County and, much earlier in 1998, escaped prosecution for assault and weapons charges.

Another investigator brought up the officer's name last February, after seeing his colleague make "suspicious" multiple purchases only using cash. The officer cashed but never deposited paychecks. The fake drug sting provided enough evidence for federal and city investigators to arrest the veteran cop, who now faces possible decade-long prison terms for felony theft counts.

Sting operations seem like entrapment, but officers are permitted to provide opportunities to gauge the response of suspects. However, an entrapment criminal defense is effective when officers repeatedly encourage a person to perform an illegal act they otherwise wouldn't commit.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, "Feds say sting operation catches Baltimore police officer stealing," Justin Fenton, May. 14, 2015

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