Tag Archives: Baltimore

Baltimore’s police commissioner resigns after charges for not paying federal taxes

darryl de sousa and catherine pugh

Mayor Pugh and her hand-picked tax evader De Sousa

The IRS doesn’t care about your oversights and inability to prioritize your own affairs. Quit it with the excuses.

From Star-Telegram: When Baltimore’s mayor hand-picked Darryl De Sousa as her choice for police commissioner, heralding his experience and the respect he commanded in the city’s force, he proudly described himself as a chess player who uses strategic thinking to avoid pitfalls.

Now just a few months later, De Sousa is out of the game, resigning in embarrassment for failing to file his taxes, a key test of Adulthood 101.

De Sousa’s path from the corner office to the revolving door was speedy, even for a city accustomed to leadership instability in a scandal-plagued police force. De Sousa resigned on Tuesday, less than four months into the job, after being charged with failing to file three years of taxes.

Tuesday also was the deadline federal prosecutors gave the city for producing years of De Sousa’s financial records.

Rising through the Baltimore force’s ranks since the 1980s, De Sousa was the third commissioner in three years and the ninth since 2000. His downfall was a blow to Mayor Catherine Pugh and the City Council, which nearly unanimously authorized his promotion in February.

Law enforcement needs to follow the law. It is critically important that the citizens of Baltimore have complete faith in their police department. I am deeply disappointed by Mr. De Sousa’s actions that leave us in this place,” City Councilman Zeke Cohen said.

Pugh had portrayed her choice of the veteran police commander as the right person to lead the force as the violent crime rate continued to soar. She said his resignation shouldn’t derail the department’s recent successes, and she’s already begun a national search to find his successor.

“I want to reassure all Baltimoreans that this development in no way alters our strategic efforts to reduce crime by addressing its root causes in our most neglected neighborhoods,” said Pugh, who fired De Sousa’s predecessor, Kevin Davis, in January after roughly 2 ½ years on the job.

In the meantime, the force is being led by Deputy Commissioner Gary Tuggle. He was named as acting leader Friday.

The U.S. Attorney’s office announced last week that De Sousa “willfully failed to file a federal return for tax years 2013, 2014, and 2015, despite having been a salaried employee of the Baltimore Police Department in each of those years.”

If proven, each of three misdemeanor counts carries up to one year in prison and a $25,000 fine. But his ongoing case has the potential to get a whole lot worse for De Sousa: Federal prosecutors have issued grand jury subpoenas to the city’s finance and police departments, seeking specifics about his pay, taxes, travel, and second jobs dating back years, according to a Tuesday report by The Baltimore Sun.

De Sousa himself could not immediately be reached Tuesday. His attorney, Steven Silverman, said he did not wish to comment. Last week, Silverman said federal prosecutors didn’t give his client a chance to explain himself or file late returns before bringing criminal charges.

De Sousa’s twin brother, Jason, described his brother’s resignation as “a loss for Baltimore City.”

“This is not the end. He has a very bright future, he’s very talented,” he said, adding that his brother was taking care of his parents, who had Alzheimer’s, during the period when he didn’t file his taxes.

Last week, De Sousa issued a statement admitting his failure to file federal and state taxes for those three years. He called it an oversight, and said he did file his 2016 taxes and got an extension for 2017 with the help of a “registered tax adviser.”

“My only explanation is that I failed to sufficiently prioritize my personal affairs,” De Sousa said.

The U.S. Attorney’s office did not immediately comment on De Sousa’s resignation. His case is being handled by the same federal prosecutors who recently prosecuted eight members of a rogue Baltimore police unit called the Gun Trace Task Force. All but one await sentencing after pleading guilty or being convicted at trial of corruption charges.

The city’s police union, which applauded De Sousa’s promotion earlier this year, said it was “anxious to put these events behind us” and hoped Pugh would find a suitable replacement fast. “Our members deserve consistency in their leadership,” said Gene Ryan, union president.

DCG

Gun control, Baltimore style: 29 killings in past three weeks

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh

Heckuva job mayor!

From Baltimore Sun: For a while, there was reason to hope. Twelve days without a killing in February. Declining street violence in March. Optimism around a new police commissioner. After a three-year spike in violent crime, a long and bloody siege that brought Baltimore international attention, the city seemed finally to be heading toward peace.

Then came April. Someone executed a mother and daughter inside their house. Stray gunfire killed a 65-year-old woman on her porch. A wanton shooter wounded a 69-year-old man outside his home.

Baltimore police counted 17 killings last month, but 29 within the past three weeks. For Baltimoreans and for the officials charged with keeping them safe, a familiar dread is returning.

“Of course, the frustration is there,” said Chief T.J. Smith, the police spokesman. “You see the moments of hope, and we haven’t given up hope, certainly. … Then you have these unfortunate moments, these spates of violence.”

Police blame some of the recent bloodshed on a war between two West Baltimore groups. The Western District, the department’s smallest, has seen the largest share of violence this year: 18 people killed, more than double the total in any other district. Nine people were killed there in the past 30 days.

Commanders across the department have deployed additional officers to try to quell the rivalry. “I don’t want to get too specific,” Smith said. “We are aware of who they are.”

Police worry that the killings of Chanette Neal, 43, and Justice Allen, 22, could set off retaliatory violence. Unknown killers kicked in their back door and shot the mother and daughter to death two weeks ago.

Prosecutors had accused their son and brother, Antoine Benjamin, of participating in a murderous West Baltimore drug crew. But they dropped a murder charge against him last week. He still faces a gun charge.

Benjamin’s attorney, Jeremy Eldridge, said his alleged crimes have nothing to do with the killing of his mother and sister.

Pinky Louise Ruffin was killed by stray gunfire last weekend. The 65-year-old grandmother was shot on her porch. Police said the bullets were intended for Marques Patterson. The 22-year-old was also killed in the attack.

In the days after, police dispatched additional officers to try and stem the rising violence.

As mourners gathered in Park Heights for a viewing for the mother and daughter, police deployed a command truck, SWAT officers, patrol cars at both ends of the block, and an officer standing at the front door, as a precaution.

Officers last week went after people with open warrants. They served 26 warrants, Smith said, and arrested and charged one man in a killing in February. “It’s a range of things we’re doing to go after people who are potentially causing some of the problems we’re seeing,” Smith said.

Walter Baynes, 30, was shot to death, and his grandfather, George Evans, 69, was critically wounded last week outside the family’s home in the 1700 block of North Regester St. A man who answered at the front door the next day declined to comment.

Police arrested and charged 17-year-old Eric Gilyard with murder in the shooting. He was jailed without bail, and there was no attorney was listed for him in online court records.

Smith said officers found a loaded gun in Baynes’ pocket. He said Evans was a bystander.

A neighbor said she heard the shots. “They stopped, then came again,” said the woman, who declined to give her name out of fear for her safety. Outside her window, she said, she could see the two men down on the sidewalk in front of their home.

The woman said she’s lived on the block 27 years and the Evans family has lived there as long. She said Evans and his wife had raised Baynes since he was a child.

Larry Weaver, Evans’ nephew, has said his uncle was probably trying to protect his grandson when he was wounded. Weaver said Evans would often sit outside on his stoop. “The whole neighborhood knew him,” Weaver said.

The neighbor said her street in the Broadway East neighborhood had been spared violence that has hit other parts of the city recently.

“I was surprised myself” to hear gunfire outside her door, she said. “It’s west, east, south, north. It’s all areas. You can’t predict when it will happen next.

Read the whole story here.

See also:

DCG

Baltimore suffers steep population decline according to new Census data

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh

Heckuva job mayor!

Gee, I wonder why…

From Baltimore Sun: Baltimore saw another year of steep population losses with nearly 5,300 people leaving the city, according to new estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The official estimate of Baltimore’s population now stands at 611,648, down more than 9,000 since the last full Census in 2010.

The Census Bureau estimates that Baltimore’s population had started growing again this decade following years of declines, but the growth stalled in 2015 and appears to have been more than entirely wiped out.

The Census Bureau estimates population on an annual cycle that runs between July 1 and June 30. The most recent estimated decline in Baltimore is offset somewhat by the bureau revising up slightly its estimate of the city’s population in 2016.

The 2015-2016 decline was especially sharp and came after a year in which the city was shaken by rioting and a spike in crime. Mayor Catherine Pugh largely shrugged those figures off at the time, but the new numbers indicate it was not a single-year blip.

Pugh could not immediately be reached for comment.

Annie Milli, the director of Live Baltimore, an agency that works to get people to come to the city, said she’s not overly concerned by the figures. She said other numbers suggest the housing market in the city is still healthy, with home sales up, new apartments coming online and the number of vacant homes stable.

“It’s an unexpected result from our perspective,” she said.

Milli said the numbers don’t necessarily suggest that entire families are picking up and moving out of Baltimore but could show that a few members of families might be leaving while others remain.

Milli said she’s optimistic for the future because other data indicates young people are moving into the city. “Those are people who have the opportunity to fall in love with city life and be converted into city dwellers,” she said.

Baltimore’s decline last year represents the second biggest decrease of any county-level jurisdiction in the nation. Only Cook County, home to Chicago, saw more people leave — and with an estimated 5,231,356 residents, it is much more populous than Baltimore.

Read the rest of the story here.

See also:

DCG

Gun-control, Baltimore style: Man shot and killed while driving in funeral procession

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh

Heckuva job mayor!

From Baltimore Sun: A man killed Saturday in West Baltimore’s Penrose neighborhood was driving in a funeral procession when he was shot in his car, Baltimore police confirmed Monday.

Dannta Holmes, 39, of the 1500 block of Shields Place, was found suffering from gunshot wounds in the 300 block of N. Monroe St. by officers who heard the gunfire while on patrol, said Detective Jeremy Silbert.

Holmes was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead. A preliminary investigation revealed suspects had approached the vehicle and opened fire before fleeing, Silbert said. He said he did not know for whom the procession was being held.

Another shooting, in which a 30-year-old man was wounded, occurred in Penrose on Wednesday. Baltimore police also identified on Monday two other men killed a day apart in the same neighborhood late last week.

Montrel Rivers, 20, of the 4000 block of Eierman Ave., was fatally shot in the upper body in a double shooting outside of a convenience store in the 1100 block of East North Ave. in East Baltimore Midway at about 2:30 p.m. Thursday, police said.

Rivers was pronounced dead at a local hospital. The other victim in the shooting, an unidentified 22-year-old man, was shot in the leg and taken to a local hospital for treatment, police said.

At about 8:50 p.m. Friday, Ronald Preston, 30, of the 800 block of Montpelier St., was found suffering from gunshot wounds in the 600 block of Gutman Ave., also in East Baltimore Midway, police said. Preston was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

As of Monday, there had been 47 homicides in Baltimore in 2018. That is fewer than during the same period last year, but more than during the same period in each of the previous five years.

The 342 homicides in 2017 marked a per-capita record in Baltimore. It was the third year in a row the city had surpassed 300 killings — a mark not previously reached in the city since 1999.

Mayor Catherine E. Pugh — who fired former Police Commissioner Kevin Davis in January and appointed Darryl De Sousa in his place — said Monday in a State of the City address that the city is moving in the right direction, but still has more work to do to halt the violence.

She said the “collateral damage” from homicides is generational and leaves long-term wounds. “This need not be, and it must not continue, and it will not,” Pugh said.

See also:

DCG

Follow the money: Baltimore to spend $200,000 to help illegal aliens fight deportation

Soros

The city of Baltimore faces many challenges, mainly a very high crime rate. See our following blog posts:

So now, according to the Baltimore Sun, the city officials’ priority is to spend taxpayer money to help illegal aliens.

Last Wednesday, Mayor Catherine Pugh said the city will pay a team of lawyers to represent immigrants illegal aliens facing deportation. From the Baltimore Sun story:

The city’s spending panel on Wednesday approved spending $200,000 to pay for the attorneys, who the Democratic mayor said will get to work within weeks defending immigrants illegal aliens against federal deportation lawyers.

“We hope that everyone gets due process,” Pugh said.

Halfof the $200,000 is funded by a grant from the Vera Institute of Justice, a New York nonprofit. The other half will come from the city’s budget.

The combined pot of money is expected to help about 40 people obtain legal representation.

The Vera Institute also will provide the mayor’s office with technical assistance and support, including help identifying lawyers, providing research and data and sharing best practices.

The funding is part of a broader effort to help immigrants illegal aliens that city officials, charity leaders and advocates launched after President Donald Trump’s inauguration. Under the Republican president, federal immigration authorities have increased deportations.

In September, federal immigration officials arrested 28 people in Maryland during a nationwide sweep targeting immigration violations in what Trump has labeled “sanctuary” jurisdictions. Five were arrested in Baltimore, one was arrested in Baltimore County, 11 in Prince George’s County and 11 in Montgomery County, federal officials said.

Immigrants Illegal aliens who face deportation charges are far more likely to lose their cases when they do not have a lawyer, advocates say. Cities and counties around the nation have been setting up funds to help pay for those lawyers because the Constitution’s guarantee of legal representation does not extend to people facing immigration charges.

After the city’s five-member spending board voted, Pugh compared having taxpayers fund such lawyers to taxpayer funding for public defenders who represent people who cannot afford attorneys in criminal cases.

“We’re not making a decision as to their status, we’re making the decision to be supportive of individuals who live in our city,” Pugh said.

Read the rest of the story here.

Take a guess, just one, as to who has ties to the Vera Institute of Justice. It will come AS NO SURPRISE to you…

The Vera Institute of Justice, as described by Wikipedia:

“Founded in 1961, the Vera Institute of Justice is an independent nonprofit national research and policy organization in the United States. Based primarily in New York City, Vera also has offices in Washington, D.C.. Vera describes its goal as “to tackle the most pressing injustices of our day: from the causes and consequences of mass incarceration, racial disparities, and the loss of public trust in law enforcement, to the unmet needs of the vulnerable, the marginalized, and those harmed by crime and violence.”

The founder of this nonprofit “research” organization Louis Schweitzer, was a Russian-born United States paper industrialist and philanthropist whose philanthropic activities included the donation of 1% of his annual income to the United Nations. More from Wikipedia:

In 1961, he founded the Vera Foundation, later renamed the Vera Institute of Justice, to reduce the numbers of poor people awaiting trial on New York City’s Rikers Island. Under Schweitzer’s leadership, Vera pioneered the use of controlled, experimental design research methods in state courts. When, in 1966, these experiments convinced the federal government to rewrite the laws governing bail in criminal cases, President Lyndon Johnson credited Schweitzer.

Schweitzer also proposed a “juvenile disarmament” resolution to the UN whereby toy guns and water pistols would be prohibited as an initial step towards effective disarmament and arms control. In response to criticism that this was a naive and quixotic proposal, Schweitzer stated, “The naive should inherit the earth because the realists have done such a lousy job.”

And here are the ties between George Soros and the Vera Institute of Justice(Those which I could find on my Yahoo and Google searches. I’m sure there are many more that were not made available during my search):

  • The former president of Open Society Foundations, Christopher Stone, spent a decade as director of the Vera Institute of Justice.
  • In 2010, the Vera Institute of Justice, with support from the Open Society Foundations and other funders, worked with New Orleans city government and community leaders to help reinvent the city’s criminal justice system.
  • In 2006, the Open Society Foundations awarded the Vera Institute of Justice $400,000 to “continue the work of The Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons.”
  • In 2010, the Open Society Foundations awarded the Vera Institute of Justice a $200,000 grant to “continue working with local government and community leaders in New Orleans, Louisiana, to continue its efforts to: develop and implement a pretrial release system; expand expedited screening; and transform the New Orleans Municipal Court.”
  • In 2005, the Open Society Foundations awarded the Vera Institute of Justice a $350,00 grant to “develop and implement a research and media strategy on prison conditions in the United States, anchored by a blue-ribbon commission.”
  • In 2011, the Open Society Foundations award the Vera Institute of Justice $500,000 to New York to “support the Center on Sentencing and Corrections and the Center on Youth and Justice.”

You knew Soros had his evil fingerprints ALL OVER this Baltimore project to ensure that “everyone” gets their “due process.”

DCG

Baltimore reporter interviews students who want “guns gone”

government solve all problems

Utopia for some. Unrealistic in the real world.

As you know Maryland has VERY strict gun control laws. Here’s a sample:

  • Magazine capacity restrictions: Illegal to purchase, sell or manufacture magazines with a capacity of greater than 10 rounds within Maryland. However, possession of magazines greater than 10 rounds is legal if purchased out of state. These may not, however, be transferred to a subsequent owner unless done so outside the state of Maryland.
  • Background checks required for private sales: All private transfers of regulated firearms (handguns or assault weapons) must be processed through a licensed dealer or designated law enforcement agency which must conduct a background check on the buyer.
  • “Weapons of War” ban:Maryland’s ban on 45 kinds of assault weapons and its 10-round limit on gun magazines were upheld by a federal appeals court in a decision that met with a strongly worded dissent. “For a law-abiding citizen who, for whatever reason, chooses to protect his home with a semi-automatic rifle instead of a semi-automatic handgun, Maryland’s law clearly imposes a significant burden on the exercise of the right to arm oneself at home, and it should at least be subject to strict scrutiny review before it is allowed to stand.”
  • Regulated firearms according to Maryland State Police: “Regulated firearm. — “Regulated firearm” means: (1) a handgun; or (2) a firearm that is any of the following specific assault weapons or their copies, regardless of which company produced and manufactured that assault weapon: See the full list here (which includes Bushmaster semi-auto rifle.)
  • Regulated Firearm Purchases (also from the Maryland State Police): “Any person who wishes to purchase, rent, or transfer a regulated firearm must complete a MSP 77R Application and Affidavit to purchase a regulated firearm. This includes individuals acquiring a regulated firearm through a firearm dealer, secondary sale/private sale, gift, or a person who wishes to voluntarily register a regulated firearm shall complete a Maryland State Police Application and Affidavit to Purchase a Regulated Firearm (MSP 77R).”

If you’d like to try and decipher the complete range of gun laws in Maryland you are welcome to do so here.  It is vast and the Maryland legislature web site is not search-friendly.

The gun control laws in Baltimore DON’T stop the criminals. We’ve done many blog posts about the gun violence that permeates Baltimore. See the following:

As for the last bulleted item, Baltimore Sun reporter Kevin Rector did a report on January 1, 2018 and interviewed kids from Excel Academy, a high school that provides second chances for troubled or vulnerable youth.  The students didn’t offer much in the way of solutions to the gun violence they face other than getting involved in political campaigns. As one student said, “she doesn’t know what 2018 will bring.”

Now, after the Parkland shooting, reporter Rector revisited the kids at Excel Academy on March 1 and this time they offered more concrete solutions. Here are some solutions the kids offered as “they want leaders to listen to what they have to say:”

  • Install metal detectors at all schools. (This is one idea that I support.)
  • Better background checks. (The NICS is only as good as the information reported and entered in the database and government agencies responsible for maintaining these records have a track record of failing to forward information to NICS.)
  • More laws and restrictions to keep guns out of the hands of those with violent tendencies or mental illness. (There are hundreds of gun laws in Maryland to prevent this from already happening.)
  • Police need to end the firearm black market. Problem is, as students said, they don’t understand why police seem oblivious to the city’s robust underground gun trade. As one student said, “…buying a gun on the black market in Baltimore is much too easy. It’s as easy was walking down the street. (If it is that easy to buy a gun on the black market, why aren’t local law enforcement officials doing anything to stop the proliferation of easy access to illegal guns?)
  • Firearm training for those who wish to purchase a gun. (Any law-abiding citizen and supporter of the Second Amendment will ensure they are trained. Are more government agencies going to be responsible for guaranteeing this item is fulfilled? The same government agencies that can’t properly update the NICS database are now going to ensure that you are “properly trained” to own a firearm?)
  • And their other solution? They want guns gone, including the AR-15 and handguns associated with most of the killings in Baltimore. (Just one little detail stopping that, kids: the Second Amendment.)

There’s a common theme among the students’ solutions to gun violence: more government action is needed.

The government and their laws designed to protect people didn’t stop the Parkland school shooter. The shooter could have faced charges before his massacre had law enforcement done their job. According to the Miami Herald, “the shooter threatened classmates, posted photos of himself holding guns, made violent statements online and was repeatedly described to authorities as a potential “school shooter.

His troubling behavior gave law enforcement plenty of opportunities to investigate and arrest him — and even take away his guns — long before he shot up Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, according to interviews with former South Florida prosecutors and legal experts (read the whole story here).”

Here’s my question: If government agencies can’t/won’t enforce current laws, what makes the kids believe that more bureaucracy will solve the problem? And what makes them think criminals will obey more gun control laws?

While I feel for the kids who are scared, looking to the government to solve Baltimore’s gun violence is not the solution. Proof of city officials’ dismal failure to protect their citizens is in their crime statistics.

DCG

Baltimore’s rising violence claims the lives of seven students from same school

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh

Heckuva job mayor!

Mayor Catherine Pugh…keeping the city “moving forward” and “taking control” of what happens in your neighborhoods.

From Fox News: A growing number of students at a Baltimore high school for troubled or vulnerable youth are missing out on a second chance to turn their life around, instead becoming statistics in a city paralyzed by violent crime.

At least seven students at Excel Academy at Francis Wood High School have been murdered the past 15 months — all victims of the city’s rising violence. At least five were killed during the 2016-17 school year. The sixth was killed in October and a seventh in November.

Among those was Stefon Cook, 20, who had been in school for only a month before he was gunned down in November. “We knew him and we knew him in a good light,” Principal Tammatha Woodhouse told the Baltimore Sun.

Another was 19-year-old Markel Scott, who was shot six times two months before his high school graduation last year. “I grew up here and I’ve never seen crime like this,” his mother Sharonda Rhodes told the New York Times. “These are not normal times. The guns are everywhere.”

The school is a grim reflection of the violence devastating the city, which saw 343 homicides in 2017 – making it three years in a row that the city saw more than 300 murders in a single year.

In its effort to help students cope with the ongoing violence, the school has four social workers, a psychologist and mental health counselors. Safe spaces have been set up so students have a place to vent.

“After the third time, it was like ‘What’s going on? Why are so many people from our school getting murdered? Is someone going after Excel?’ But I think most of them were at the wrong place at the wrong time,” student Deja Williams, 19, who knew all the seven young men killed, told the New York Times.

Woodhouse said there were many times during the last 15 months that she wondered if it was just too much to handle. “I remember having a conversation with my supervisor like, ‘I don’t know if I can do this anymore.’ And he was like, ‘Well, who’s going to do it if you can’t?’” she said.

She continued: “These are young folks who are independent, taking care of themselves and have to survive in an environment that’s not so welcoming to young folks. How as a city do we look at them and ensure that they have economic resources and make sure that they have some stake in the game as it relates to Baltimore?”

City officials say they are trying to figure out ways to make the city safer.

The city is adding a network of more than 750 high-definition cameras that have the ability to zoom in and follow people as they walk down the streets, the Times reported. The city’s leadership also ordered every agency to undertake initiatives to reduce crime, like installing street lighting and clearing vacant lots.

The recent rise in homicides appeared to be triggered by the April 2015 death of Freddie Gray, an African American man who died while in police custody.

“It’s like sitting on a keg of dynamite,” Mayor Catherine Pugh told the Baltimore Sun. “If we don’t fix it, it will all explode.”

While it’s unclear whether the strategies will work, Police Commissioner Kevin Davis told the Sun that the Violence Reduction Initiative is “fundamentally improving how the government is delivered to poor, violent communities in a way it’s never been delivered before.” He said they are already seeing a slight decrease in crime. “So you have to stick with that,” he said, “and you have to find ways to expand it.”

DCG