Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, who has entertained thoughts of a presidential bid in 2016, may be slowed down by a scandal on his watch where a Baltimore jail was essentially taken over by a gang within it. The Black Guerilla Family, founded in California in the 1960s but now a nationwide gang, arrived in Maryland and its prisons in the 1990s and by 2006 was the strongest gang in the Baltimore City Detention Center. Linked with narcotics trafficking, robbery, assault and homicides, the gang was helped by 13 corrections officers in the prison to run a drug-trafficking and money laundering scheme that included cash payments, sex, and fancy cars. The 13 officers, four of whom became pregnant from the same inmate, were charged Tuesday with racketeering.
The guards allegedly smuggled cellphones, prescription pills and other illegal goods in their underwear, shoes and hair. One gang leader even bought a Mercedes-Benz and a BMW, which the guards sometimes drove. FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt said, “The inmates literally took over ‘the asylum,’ and the detention centers became safe havens for BGF.”
Prosecutors condemned the jails in Baltimore, calling them “completely inadequate to prevent smuggling” and lacking “effective punishment.”
Gary D. Maynard, who oversees the prisons and was appointed by O’Malley in 2007, took the hit for O’Malley, saying, “It’s totally on me. I don’t make any excuses. We will move up the chain of command, and people will be held accountable.” Meanwhile, all of the officers have been suspended without pay and it is expected that they will be fired.
O’Malley had planned to run on his record as a “performance-driven” manager of state government. That may be a little more difficult now.