Officer faces new charges in raid on home of Schmoke relative Failure to cooperate in probe is alleged

June 17, 1992|By Michael James | Michael James,Staff Writer

A Baltimore police officer who led a raid on a mayoral relative's home now faces new departmental charges because he refused to make a statement to investigators who are examining the incident.

Officer Nicholas S. Constantine, 27, was informed yesterday that internal affairs officials are investigating him for insubordination and failure to obey a direct departmental order, said Agent Doug Price, a city police spokesman.

"The essence of it is that he failed to cooperate in an internal investigation and he didn't provide a statement," Agent Price said.

Officer Constantine and four officers who participated in the raid are the subjects of an internal affairs investigation that began in late April. The investigation focuses on alleged violations of departmental regulations involving several drug raids -- including a raid on the home of Ronald E. Hollie, who is married to a cousin of the wife of Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke.

No drugs were found at Mr. Hollie's home. The officers were subsequently charged with falsifying search warrant affidavits used in the raids and with perjury. At their Circuit Court trial, they were cleared on some of the counts, prompting the city state's attorney's office to drop the remaining counts.

Officer Constantine said he believes the mayor holds a grudge against him because of the July 17 drug raid on Mr. Hollie's home. The raid occurred while Mr. Schmoke was campaigning for re-election. After the raid, an angry Mr. Schmoke said, "I smell a rat" and asked the police commissioner to investigate the raid.

Officer Constantine has been relieved of duties as a narcotics officer and assigned to a loading dock at police headquarters. Yesterday, he said: "They're out to get me . . . I've been photographed and fingerprinted twice, like a criminal. I just want be sure they don't do it again."

Under departmental regulations, officers facing administrative charges are required to make a statement to internal investigators when they are ordered to do so. Officer Constantine said he refused to make a statement because he feared that it could become the basis for new criminal charges.

"I wanted some type of guarantee that they wouldn't charge me criminally again, and they wouldn't give it to me," Officer Constantine said.

Police officials said the decision to grant such immunity from criminal prosecution would have to come from the state's attorney's office. State's Attorney Stuart O. Simms couldn't be reached for comment yesterday afternoon.

Byron L. Warnken, Officer Constantine's lawyer, told Police Commissioner Edward V. Woods in a letter that he was concerned about public statements made by the mayor about his interest in seeing Officer Constantine prosecuted.

The mayor told The Sun in April that Officer Constantine and the others could possibly face departmental or even federal charges.

Officer Constantine and the other four officers, Bernard Douglas, Efren Edwards, John Mohr and Chris Wade, are each being investigated for three counts each of police misconduct. The charges allege that the officers misrepresented facts in search warrants, one of which involved the raid at Mr. Hollie's house.

Officer Constantine has maintained that an informant identified the house as the place where he bought crack cocaine, and that the informant may have set up the police.

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