Prison officer held in robbery

Driver says he was abducted, robbed by three men with badges

November 07, 2006|By Gus G. Sentementes | Gus G. Sentementes,Sun reporter

Baltimore police said yesterday they arrested a state correctional officer and were seeking two other men in connection with the abduction and robbery of a South Baltimore man who told authorities the trio had impersonated city police officers.

Col. Fred H. Bealefeld III, chief of detectives, said a 19-year-old man and two others were stopped and searched by the men in the city's Westport neighborhood Friday evening. Displaying silver badges, police said, the men handcuffed and forced the teenager into a silver 2001 Hyundai, drove near M&T Bank Stadium and stole $700 from him. The other two men were set free.

Bealefeld said the man memorized the car's license plate number, and, after he was freed, he called police on his cell phone. Detectives are investigating whether the men might be connected to other similar robberies on the city's west side in recent weeks, Bealefeld said.

"They advised him that it was against the law to be in possession of that amount of money and that they would be seizing it and turning it in to police headquarters," Bealefeld said. "They warned him if he didn't conduct himself properly, he would be placed under arrest."

Bealefeld said the suspect arrested on Friday, Carl W. Minor, 33, has worked as a correctional officer since May 2005 at the House of Correction in Jessup. He was charged with kidnapping, assault, robbery, theft and false imprisonment. The other men charged in warrants with similar crimes were identified by police as George H. Heckstall Jr., 33, and Calvin S. Owens Jr., 45.

Charging documents allege that the suspects do "agent recovery work" for an unspecified insurance company. On the night of the attack, the documents say the men were driving around "looking for individuals wanted on warrants." Bealefeld said detectives believe the men may work, or have worked, as bail bondsmen.

Police said they found two badges on Minor - a state correctional officer's badge and a "fugitive recovery agent" badge.

Authorities said they believe the men targeted suspected drug dealers, because dealers seldom report the attacks to police.

Bealefeld said detectives have not found any indication that the victim was involved in any illegal activity. He had parked his car on Maisel Street when he was stopped and searched.

"He was there visiting his friends," Bealefeld said. "We know that he has a very solid background. He seems like he was an entirely innocent victim of these people."

Minor was being held yesterday on $350,000 bail at the Central Booking and Intake Center.

Mark Vernarelli, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, said that Minor has worked for the state corrections system for four years, but only since 2005 at the prison. He said prison officials have launched an investigation into the allegations.

Owens was convicted in 2003 for impersonating a police officer and illegal handgun possession in Baltimore County, state court records show.

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