By Stephen Janis, Special to the AFRO

In an abrupt turnaround, Mayor Catherine Pugh suspended Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa with pay. Federal charges that the veteran top cop failed to file tax returns-and his personal admission they were true-made it likely he would enter a plea of guilty to a series of federal crimes.

“Upon review of the circumstances surrounding Commissioner Darryl De Sousa’s failure to file tax returns for successive years, I have placed him on paid suspension, effective immediately,” the Mayor said in written statement released Friday.

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh stands next to Baltimore Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa, during his official swearing in ceremony Feb. 28. (Courtesy photo)

The move comes after Pugh initially defended DeSousa, releasing a public statement that the commissioner she appointed in January, after the firing of then commissioner Kevin Davis, would work to resolve the charges while continuing to serve as the city’s top cop.

But documents filed by prosecutors related to the case hint that DeSousa’s charges may have broader implications for a department already under a federal consent decree.

In a motion to seal charging documents, federal prosecutors stated that DeSousa was still under investigation for possibly committing federal crimes, and that the release of documents tied to the case could compromise ongoing inquiries risking “witness tampering” and “destruction of evidence.”

The tax charges were announced Thursday by Federal prosecutors, who allege DeSousa didn’t file tax returns in 2013, 2014, and 2015. The charges, all misdemeanors, are punishable with a $25,000 fine and a year in prison.

Shortly after they were announced, De Sousa all but admitted to the crimes in a written statement.

“I fully admit to failing to file my personal Federal and State taxes for 2013, 2014 and 2015. I did file my 2016 taxes and received an extension for my 2017 taxes,” the statement said. “I have been working to satisfy the filing requirements and, to that end, have been working with a registered tax advisor.”

Baltimore city entered into a consent decree with the Department of Justice after an investigation found its police department regularly engaged in racist and unconstitutional tactics targeting Black neighborhoods. The troubled law enforcement agency also made national headlines when now nine members of an elite unit called the Gun Trace Task Force were indicted for robbing residents, stealing overtime, and drug dealing.