Officer indicted for felony theft in police probe

October 22, 1991|By Roger Twigg

A 25-year-old Eastern District police officer was indicted by a Baltimore grand jury yesterday on a charge of stealing $340 from an undercover state trooper who was posing as a drug dealer, according to officials.

Officer Richard B. Warble, who has been with the department about six years, has agreed to surrender today with his attorney for formal processing, Stuart O. Simms, the city state's attorney, said.

Officer Warble has been suspended from duty with pay since Oct. 10, the date of the alleged incident.

Police Commissioner Edward V. Woods said through a spokesman yesterday that the department would "not tolerate this type of activity" and promised to investigate allegations of similar wrongdoing.

Officer Warble's indictment is the result of a continuing five-month investigation into allegations that officers in the Eastern Police District had been shaking down drug dealers for money, said Dennis S. Hill, a police spokesman.

Neither Mr. Simms nor Mr. Hill would say whether other officers have been implicated in the investigation. "It is safe to assume that this is a matter of continuing concern and we will work to resolve the department's concern," Mr. Simms said when asked if the grand jury will continue to hear testimony.

The probe began in June after members of the Police Department's Internal Investigation Division obtained evidence that officers were stealing money from drug dealers. The department asked for help from the Maryland State Police in order to get undercover officers who were not known to the Baltimore police.

At 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 10, internal investigators put out a bogus call on the Eastern District radio channel about two men exchanging money in the 1300 block of Hoffman Street, Mr. Hill said. The spokesman said an undercover state trooper was in a BMW with three packets of marked money totaling $2,000.

Officer Warble responded to the call, frisked the undercover trooper in the BMW and took $2,000 hidden in three different places in his clothing, Mr. Hill said.

Mr. Hill said as the officer walked back to his patrol car he asked undercover trooper how much money was in the three packets. The man said he did not know. When the officer returned to the BMW, he handed the state police undercover man the money and allegedly said, "Here is your $1,660," Mr. Hill said.

Mr. Hill said the undercover state trooper then gave a prearranged signal to Baltimore Police Department internal investigators who were staked out nearby, and they proceeded to get a search and seizure warrant.

When Officer Warble returned to the station house later that night, investigators searched him and allegedly recovered the $340 in marked bills from a liner in his bulletproof vest, Mr. Hill said.

The officer was suspended with pay pending grand jury action.

Officer Warble is to be arraigned Nov. 8 on the felony theft charge.

Officer Warble's attorneys were unavailable for comment.

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