5 officers given desk duty during internal probe Perjury allegations pursued despite action by court

April 24, 1992|By Michael James and Roger Twigg | Michael James and Roger Twigg,Staff Writers

Five Baltimore narcotics officers have been reassigned to minor desk duty at police headquarters pending an internal investigation that could result in departmental charges stemming from perjury allegations.

The transfers -- effective today -- come just three days after Baltimore State's Attorney Stuart O. Simms dropped criminal charges against the officers.

The officers will be transferred from the Northwest District station to the services bureau at headquarters, said Sam Ringgold, a department spokesman.

They will perform such duties as records keeping, property handling and communications.

Police Commissioner Edward V. Woods' decision to transfer the officers follows the dismissal of perjury charges in Baltimore Circuit Court.

"Even though charges were dismissed, the commissioner still had some concerns that grew out of the trial," Mr. Ringgold said. Mr. Simms had similar concerns, he said.

Police sources said it appears likely that the officers will be charged by the internal investigation division. The officers have been in one boiling pot after another since last summer when they came up empty-handed in a drug raid at the home of a relative of the wife of Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke.

Mr. Ringgold confirmed that the officers currently are the subject of an administrative investigation.

The officers -- Nicholas S. Constantine, Bernard G. Douglas, Efren E. Edwards, Chris A. Wade and John C. Mohr Jr. -- had been criminally charged with lying in search warrant applications.

"All we want is to be treated fairly. And that doesn't seem to be happening," said Officer Constantine.

The criminal charges were essentially thrown out by Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Andre M. Davis, who said the violations were technicalities and that the misstatements on the warrants were immaterial and inconsequential.

In each case, the officer claimed to have submitted drugs to a police crime lab when he actually hadn't.

After the trial, Mr. Schmoke and Mr. Simms said they were still seeking punishment for the officers. Mr. Schmoke said the trial "doesn't end the matter by any stretch" and said the officers would face departmental or federal charges.

The officers have vehemently claimed prosecutors pursued criminal charges because each of the officers was involved in the raid last July at the home on Taney Road.

The owner of the home, Ronald E. Hollie, is married to a cousin of Patricia Schmoke, the mayor's wife. No drugs were found at the home, which was targeted for the raid when an informant claimed to have bought crack cocaine there.

In the months following the raid, police internal affairs officers and prosecutors examined more than 150 search warrants that had been written by the officers.

That examination turned up six raids -- including the Taney Road raid -- that were carried out after the officers had allegedly lied on the search warrant applications. The officers were criminally charged with perjury for those raids.

Mr. Simms dropped as many as 100 or more drug cases in which the officers made the arrests or were closely involved. The cases, Mr. Simms said, were tainted because the officers had been charged with perjury.

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