Tag Archives: Maryland

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

Chelsea Manning vows to eliminate US borders, close prisons and abolish ICE

bradley manning

Manning: A convicted traitor and “ethics” expert who wants to be your next senator…

Remember voters, elections will have consequences. Just a taste of what’s happening in Maryland right now:

From Daily Mail: Chelsea Manning is no longer living as a transgender woman in a male military prison, serving the lengthiest sentence ever for revealing US government secrets. She’s free to grow out her hair, travel the world, and spend time with whomever she likes.

But a year since former President Barack Obama commuted Manning’s 35-year sentence, America’s most famous convicted leaker isn’t taking an extended vacation.

Far from it: The Oklahoma native has decided to make an unlikely bid for the U.S. Senate in her adopted state of Maryland.

Manning, 30, filed to run in January and has been registered to vote in Maryland since August. She lives in North Bethesda, not far from where she stayed with an aunt while awaiting trial.

Her aim is to unseat Sen. Ben Cardin, a 74-year-old Maryland Democrat who is seeking his third Senate term and previously served 10 terms in the U.S. House.

Manning, who also has become an internationally recognized transgender activist, said she’s motivated by a desire to fight what she sees as a shadowy surveillance state and a rising tide of nightmarish repression.

‘The rise of authoritarianism is encroaching in every aspect of life, whether it’s government or corporate or technological,’ Manning told The Associated Press during an interview at her home in an upscale apartment tower.

On the walls of her barely furnished living room hang Obama’s commutation order, and photos of U.S. anarchist Emma Goldman and Anglo-Irish playwright Oscar Wilde.

Manning’s longshot campaign for the June 26 primary would appear to be one of the more unorthodox U.S. Senate bids in recent memory, and the candidate is operating well outside the party’s playbook.

She says she doesn’t, in fact, even consider herself a Democrat, but is motivated by a desire to shake up establishment Democrats who are ‘caving in’ to President Donald Trump’s administration. She vows she won’t run as an independent if her primary bid fails.

She’s certainly got an eye-catching platform: Close prisons and free inmates; eliminate national borders; restructure the criminal justice system; provide universal healthcare and basic income. 

The top of her agenda? Abolish the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a federal agency created in 2003 that Manning asserts is preparing for an ‘ethnic cleansing.’

Manning ticks off life experiences she believes would make her an effective senator: a stint being homeless in Chicago, her wartime experiences as a U.S. Army intelligence analyst in Iraq – even her seven years in prison. She asserts she’s got a ‘bigger vision’ than establishment politicians.

But political analysts suspect the convicted felon is not running to win.

‘Manning is running as a protest candidate, which has a long lineage in American history, to shine light on American empire,’ said Daniel Schlozman, a political science professor at Johns Hopkins University. ‘That’s a very different goal, with a very different campaign, than if she wanted to beat Ben Cardin.’

Manning’s insurgent candidacy thus far has been a decidedly stripped-down affair, with few appearances and a campaign website that just went up. In recent days, she approached an anti-fracking rally in Baltimore almost furtively, keeping to herself for much of the demonstration.

But when it was her turn to address the small group, her celebrity status was evident. People who never met her called her by her first name and eagerly took photos.

Manning has acknowledged leaking more than 700,000 secret military and State Department documents to activist website WikiLeaks in 2010. She said her motivation was a desire to spark debate about U.S. foreign policy, and she has been portrayed as both a hero and a traitor.

Read the rest of the story here.

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ICE arrests illegal alien for Maryland crash that killed FBI agent, fire marshal

sander cohen and caros wolf fox 5 dc photo

Sander Cohen (l) and Carlos Wolf (r)/Fox 5 DC photo

From Fox News: Immigration officers have arrested a Guatemalan national who mowed down and killed an FBI agent and a fire marshal on a Maryland highway last year.

Roberto Garza Palacios was accused of being unlawfully present in the U.S. after overstaying a work visa that expired in 2009, Fox 5 DC reported Friday. He was arrested Thursday in Gaithersburg, Md., where he was living.

The station reported that after an arrest in 2015 on local charges, Montgomery County released Garza Palacios from custody despite an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer to hold him.

The 28-year-old man, who worked in landscaping and construction, was charged Tuesday with negligent driving in the deaths in December of FBI agent Carlos Wolf, 36, and Maryland fire marshal Sander Cohen, 33.

Wolf had crashed his vehicle on Interstate 270, and Cohen stopped to help him. Both men were off-duty. Garza Palacios drove up, swerved to avoid their vehicles and plowed into them on the shoulder.

He spoke at the scene to investigators who ruled out alcohol, drugs or speed as factors in the crash, the station reported.

The negligent driving charge is punishable by a $280 fine and the loss of three points on a license.

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.

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DHS reveals number of MS-13 and other gang members released by demorat sanctuary policies

DACA

From Daily Mail: The Department of Homeland Security says that so-called sanctuary states shielded dozens of alleged MS-13 gang members from deportation during an eight-month period between 2016 and 2017.

The findings were provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) – the federal agency responsible for deporting undocumented migrants illegal aliens.

According to ICE, two-thirds of the 142 suspected gang members that ICE wanted to deport were released in California.

The data was reported by the anti-immigrant (no bias there, Daily Mail) think tank Center for Immigration Studies.

California has a sanctuary policy that is considered one of the most progressive in the country. Sanctuary policies are local guidelines in which state and local authorities limit their cooperation with the federal government in enforcing immigration laws.

ICE says that the releases of the alleged MS-13 gang members took place in 37 local jurisdictions across 13 states. The most releases of alleged gang members – 22 – took place in Santa Clara County, California.

San Diego County leaders voted on Tuesday to join the Trump administration’s court challenge to California’s sanctuary law, amid a conservative backlash to the so-called sanctuary movement.

California moved to the forefront of political opposition to Republican President Donald Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration with enactment last year of the first statewide law aimed at restricting local law enforcement participation in federal deportation activity.

The measure bars state and local authorities from keeping undocumented immigrants illegal aliens who are incarcerated locked up any longer than otherwise necessary for the purpose of allowing US immigration agents to take them into custody.

It also prohibits police from routinely inquiring about the immigration status of people detained in an investigation or in traffic stops.

But the law, known as SB-54, allows local police to notify the federal government if they have arrested an undocumented immigrant illegal aliens with a felony record and permits immigration agents access to local jails.

The Trump administration has harshly criticized California’s law and similar sanctuary ordinances adopted by local governments across the country, saying they threaten public safety by protecting criminals who should to be deported.

Of the 37 jurisdictions that allegedly released MS 13 gang members, all but one of them – Maricopa County, Arizona – are sanctuary localities.

Authorities in Maryland have had to deal with the largest number of suspected MS 13 figures. ICE figures show that Montgomery County released five MS-13 members while Prince George’s County released four.

Between 2012 and 2018, 84 alleged MS-13 members were arrested for gang-related activity.

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.

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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.

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