Two Baltimore police officers found guilty in corruption trial

Feb. 12 (UPI) — Two Baltimore police Gun Trace Task Force Detectives were found guilty on multiple charges in a federal corruption trial Monday.

A jury found Detectives Daniel Hersl, 48, and Marcus Taylor, 31, guilty of racketeering, robbery and overtime fraud and both face maximum sentences of 60 years in prison.

Hersl and Taylor were both acquitted on the count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, carrying a mandatory minimum sentence of five years.

Prosecutors said the two officers acted as “both cops and robbers” by stealing large sums of money from residents while claiming to be doing police work.

“No citizen is above the law and in the case of Hersl and Taylor the jury has spoken,” the Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police wrote on Twitter following the verdict. “We wish that the discovery of their crimes had occurred earlier but we trust Commissioner Designee De Sousa’s strategies for seeking out corruption within our ranks will be successful.”

Four officers who had previously pleaded guilty in the case testified for the government and identified Hersl and Taylor as part of a crew that stole money and split it among themselves while working together to cover up their actions.

Hersl and Taylor join six former officers who previously pleaded guilty in the case and were subsequently fired.

Baltimore police Commissioner-designate Darryl DeSousa released a statement saying Hersl and Taylor have been suspended without pay since they were indicted on March 1, 2017.

“During the course of the trial, we have had a team of people monitoring the proceedings. We have created a new Corruption Unit that will focus, specifically, on this case and the allegations that were made, but were not part of the indictment or prosecution. Let me be clear; I have ZERO TOLERANCE for corruption,” De Sousa said.

Prosecutors said more than 125 convictions in cases involving the officers were dropped or vacated and the public defender’s office said thousands of cases have been compromised due to the officers’ admissions of lies and theft throughout the past decade.

“I want all of our citizens to know that I have likewise been appalled by the level of dishonesty and betrayal that these individuals, and others also implicated, perpetrated here in our community. There is no more important element to effective policing than trust between the men and women of our police force and those they have sworn to protect and serve,” Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said.