Officers in perjury probe reassigned Internal probe comes despite court dismissal.

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

Five Baltimore narcotics officers have been reassigned to 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.

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, as did Mr. Simms.

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

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, who with the others has claimed that the mayor seems to be pushing Mr. Woods and Mr. Simms to punish them.

The criminal charges were in effect thrown out by Baltimore Circuit Judge Andre M. Davis, who said that 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 would still seek punishment for the officers. Mr. Schmoke said the trial "doesn't end the matter by any stretch" and the officers would face departmental or federal charges.

The officers have vehemently claimed that 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 had been targeted for the raid after 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 drug cases in which the officers were closely involved. The cases, Mr. Simms said, were tainted because the officers had been charged with perjury.

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