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Baltimore rogue police unit leader jailed

The leader of a rogue Baltimore police unit has been sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Ex-police sergeant Wayne Earl Jenkins, 37, led the elite Gun Trace Task Force until his arrest along with almost every member of the unit in March 2017.

He admitted robbing Baltimore citizens, planting drugs on innocent people and re-selling seized drugs such as heroin, cocaine and prescription painkillers.

Prosecutors depicted him as the rogue officers' once untouchable chief.

Jenkins must serve three years of supervised release after his custodial sentence.

He was convicted on multiple counts including racketeering, robbery and falsification of records.

Jenkins, who had been with the Baltimore Police Department since 2003, took over the Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF) in 2016.

According to the plea agreement, he stole money, property and narcotics by detaining victims, raiding homes, conducting traffic stops and faking search warrants.

He also submitted bogus incident and arrest reports to cover up his illegal activities.

Family and friends of Jenkins packed the courtroom as he learned his fate on Thursday.

In a letter to Judge Catherine Blake, Jenkins' wife Kristy asked her for leniency.

This is not the man I know, she wrote. Wayne is truly sorry for his actions. He is very remorseful.

The GTTF was made up of eight officers, all but one of whom were indicted by federal prosecutors.

Former sergeant Thomas Allers, and detectives Maurice Ward, Evodio Hendrix, Momodu Gondo and Jemell Rayam all pleaded guilty.

Detectives Daniel Hersl and Marcus Taylor went forward to trial and a jury found them guilty of robbery, extortion and fraud in February. Both men have appealed against the ruling.

During the trial, which lasted three weeks, Taylor and Hersl's former colleagues testified against them, detailing years of robberies that took place in the course of their duties as police officers.

They stole cash from drug dealers as well as law abiding citizens, and filed for hundreds of hours of fraudulent overtime.

According to testimony from Ward and Hendrix, Jenkins played an outsize role in the schemes.

They said he prepared an arsenal of weapons and tools to begin carrying out burglaries.

The jury was shown axes, machetes and pry bars, as well as black masks that were found in Jenkins' van after his arrest.

The jury also heard from a former bail bondsman and drug dealer named Donald Stepp, who says he re-sold drugs that Jenkins confiscated during arrests.

He estimated they sold about $1m worth of drugs in the time they worked together.

US prosecutors say Jenkins earned up to $250,000 (Pound 190,000) from the drug sales.

Allers, who was the sergeant of the unit before Jenkins took over, was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison in May.

He apologised and told the court: I will live with this until the day I die.

Detective Maurice Ward is scheduled to be sentenced later on Thursday.

Detectives Evodio Hendrix and Marcus Taylor will be sentenced on Friday. But the saga is far from over.

In January, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh fired her police commissioner and replaced him with former Deputy Commissioner Darryl De Sousa, who promised sweeping reforms to the department.

Last month, Mr De Sousa was indicted for failure to pay his taxes by the same prosecutors who brought the GTTF case.

He resigned and the top spot at the Baltimore Police Department remains vacant.

In the course of the trial, a dozen names of current and former law enforcement officers were mentioned, raising questions about their possible role in or knowledge of the GTTF's crimes.

The department says those officers are currently under investigation, but nothing else has been made public about the inquiry.

Partly in response, the Maryland state legislature passed an emergency bill creating a new commission to investigate the misdeeds of the GTTF.

The body will have subpoena power and the seven members are expected to be seated this summer.

They are required to produce two reports, one at the end of 2018 and a final summation of findings in 2019.

Hersl, Rayam, Gondo and Stepp have yet to be sentenced.

Prosecutors have emphasised that the FBI investigation remains open.

Source: Voice of Nigeria