Sergeant implicated in internal affairs office break-in

Judge refuses to exclude statements to officer

November 14, 2001|By Joan Jacobson | Joan Jacobson,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore police sergeant testified in court yesterday that fellow officer Joseph P. Comma Jr. confessed to breaking into a secret internal affairs office in December, a break-in investigators allege was motivated by Comma's desire to get even with his bosses because of a transfer.

Sgt. Kelvin Sewell told Baltimore County Circuit Judge Robert N. Dugan that Comma told him on Jan. 1: "`I don't want you to go down for what I did. I did the break-in.'"

Comma was a nine-year veteran of the city Police Department last spring when he was charged with burglary, theft and malicious destruction of property in the December break-in of the internal affairs office on the grounds of the Back River Sewage Treatment Plant in Baltimore County.

Sewell testified during a pretrial hearing yesterday in which Comma's lawyers, Larry Nathans and Michelle Martz-Bowles, unsuccessfully sought to have his statement excluded from evidence. The trial is to start Nov. 27.

Sewell, who described himself as a colleague and friend of Comma's, testified that he didn't tell investigators about Comma's confession for more than a month.

On Feb. 5, Sewell said, he was in an FBI office in Woodlawn for questioning. He had just failed a polygraph test when city police Sgt. James Hagin asked him whether he knew who broke into the office, he testified yesterday. "I said yes," Sewell said, adding that he then named Comma.

After the break-in, investigators discovered that a missing file involved a case against Officer Brian L. Sewell (no relation to Kelvin), who had been charged with perjury and misconduct after police said he falsely charged a man with drug possession. Because of the missing file, criminal charges were dropped against Brian Sewell in January. Last week, he was found guilty of misconduct by a police disciplinary panel that recommended he be fired.

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