Two of the seven Baltimore police officers indicted on racketeering and conspiracy charges earlier this year appeared in court on July 21 to change their pleas from not guilty to guilty.
Detectives Maurice Ward, 36, and Evodio Hendrix, 32, both pleaded guilty to various charges including stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from citizens, lying on police reports, and taking vacations while recording the time off as overtime.
Detectives Maurice Ward, 36, and Evodio Hendrix, 32. (Baltimore Police Department via AP)
The officers admitted vacationing in the Dominican Republic while recording it as working regular shifts. The two nearly doubled their salaries in false overtime claims.
The pair each face nearly a decade in prison; they are scheduled to be sentenced in February.
According to federal prosecutors, the seven policemen repeatedly robbed citizens for drugs and cash, wrongly imprisoned them, and filed false reports.
Earlier this month, federal prosecutors brought additional robbery charges against three other members of the seven charged officers: Sgt. Wayne Jenkins, 37; Det. Daniel Hersl, 48; and Det. Marcus Taylor, 30.
“When you see that law enforcement officers aren’t living up to their oath and committing crimes, you need to go after them vigorously,” said Stephen Schenning, acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland. “I’m a career law enforcement person and native Baltimorean. It’s disheartening.”
Detectives Ward and Hendrix were part of the elite Gun Trace Task Force of the Baltimore Police Department.
The task force was praised for their work taking almost 140 guns off the streets in 2016. Due to the indictment against the officers involved in those actions, dozens of those cases have been dropped, and many more are under review. All seven indicted officers remain incarcerated, and the two guilty pleas by Ward and Hendrix could mean that the two officers will have to testify against their five colleagues.
The guilty pleas come on the heels of yet another Baltimore Police Department scandal. Body camera footage released earlier this week and inadvertently recorded by an officer in January, appear to show the officer planting drug evidence. His actions have reportedly placed nearly 100 other cases in jeopardy.