BALTIMORE (AP) — The disgraced leader of a rogue Baltimore police unit was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to nine robberies while on the force.
Former Sgt. Thomas Allers is the first member of the brazenly corrupt Gun Trace Task Force to head to prison. He pleaded guilty to nine robberies during his time leading the since disbanded unit.
On Friday, there were gasps and tears as Allers, wearing a baggy jail jumpsuit, was sentenced in front of a gallery packed with his relatives and friends.
Allers, too, became emotional as his defense lawyer took the unusual step of reading aloud a suicide note he addressed to his wife. Investigators found it in his sock drawer just after his arrest.
Allers told U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake that he had found God in jail and would live with the shame of what he did. He said he never meant to hurt anybody.
“I’m just praying for this nightmare to be over,” Allers said.
Defense attorney Gary Proctor said Allers, who turns 50 next month, was an alcoholic, suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder from his years policing Baltimore’s streets, and had been a “great cop” for most of his career.
But U.S. prosecutor Leo Wise said Allers caused “irreparable harm” with his crimes, and it was his leadership that made corruption possible on the task force during his tenure, from 2014 to 2016.
“These were crimes motivated by greed,” said Wise, one of two U.S. prosecutors who has spent much of the last two years scrutinizing the task force, which he has described as a “perfect storm” of corruption.
Blake said Allers appeared remorseful and may well have been an upstanding cop once, but that doesn’t change the fact that the crimes he pleaded guilty to made up a “very significant abuse of the public trust.”
Allers joined in with corrupt activities and “emboldened what other people on the task force were doing,” Blake said. The sentencing had to deliver a clear message that police officers who break their oaths will be punished, she said.
A jury found two task force detectives guilty of robbery and racketeering earlier this year. The explosive federal investigation has seen six law enforcers plead guilty. Several cooperated with the government. Allers did not.
While the rogue detectives admitted to lying for years to cover their tracks, it’s an open question as to whether the force’s command structure had enough integrity to expose them. It was a federal investigation that brought them down.
Public defenders and State’s Attorney for Baltimore Marilyn Mosby say thousands of cases touched by the unit’s members are likely tainted. Scores have been dropped so far. Many fear hardened criminals will get released.
Jeffrey Ian Ross, a criminologist at the University of Baltimore, said it’s highly likely that “a certain percentage of them are going to want to get back in the game.”
By DAVID McFADDEN and COURTNEY COLUMBUS
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