Police officials probing 5 officers Investigation tied to drug raid at home of mayor's relatives

April 28, 1992|By Michael James and Roger Twigg | Michael James and Roger Twigg,Staff Writers

Five Baltimore narcotics officers were notified today that they are being investigated by their supervisors, who are accusing them of botching drug raids and discrediting the police force.

The notification to seek administrative charges is the latest in the ongoing saga surrounding the officers, who have been on the run from trouble ever since coming up empty-handed after a drug raid last summer at the home of a relative of the city Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke.

Just one week ago, the officers were celebrating State's Attorney Stuart O. Simms' decision to drop criminal perjury charges against them after a Baltimore Circuit Court judge said the cases were weak.

The officers -- Nicholas S. Constantine, Bernard G. Douglas, Efren E. Edwards, Chris A. Wade and John C. Mohr Jr. -- face three counts of police department misconduct. If found guilty of any of the charges, the officers could face punishment ranging from a loss in pay to dismissal.

"We're appalled. We think it's a violation of their due process," said Henry L. Belsky, an attorney representing the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3, which provided defense counsel for the officers.

"Some of these guys were Policemen of the Year. They've placed them under undue hardship. There are no benefits about being a cop today except that they give you great funerals," Mr. Belsky said.

Sam Ringgold, a city police spokesman, said the officers were charged with misrepresenting facts in a search and seizure warrant, mishandling evidence in a drug investigation, and misconduct by bringing discredit to themselves and the police department.

The department's internal investigation division has conducted an extensive investigation into all Northwest District drug investigations in the last 18 months, Mr. Ringgold said.

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

The criminal charges were in effect thrown out last week by Baltimore Circuit Judge Andre M. Davis, who said that the violations were technicalities and that the misstatements on the search warrant applications were immaterial and inconsequential.

The five 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, though 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.

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