Baltimore Police Officer Daniel Redd, who was accused of running a drug ring while on duty, in uniform and sometimes in his Northwestern District parking lot, pleaded guilty Friday in federal court to participating in a heroin conspiracy and carrying a gun — his service weapon — while trafficking drugs.
He has agreed to a prison term of 20 years under a deal signed with prosecutors last month. He could have faced two life terms for the felony convictions. U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles can accept or reject the deal at a sentencing hearing, set for June 20.
One woman showed up to watch the brief proceedings, telling Redd she loved him as he was handcuffed and led out of the room, having swapped his police uniform for maroon prison garb. He smiled and returned the sentiment, appearing in good spirits.
The plea ends a week during which the image of city police has taken several hits. On Monday, the department held a formal suspension hearing for an Eastern District officer under investigation for his "conduct" in the aftermath of a child's homicide. And on Tuesday, it saw an officer from the Central District sentenced to eight months in federal prison for accepting kickbacks (14 more officers are also facing prison time in that case).
"The overwhelming majority of the men and women of the Baltimore Police Department work hard every day to make our city safer and back up the quality of their work with their lives," Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III said in a statement. "However, I am committed to taking the swiftest disciplinary action against the small minority of officers who dishonor the honor and integrity of this department."
Since taking office five years ago, Bealefeld has streamlined personnel and discipline records throughout the department to help internal investigators spot warning signs and ferret out any bad seeds.
"If any member of this agency violates the law or does not uphold the oath of office, I am re-emphasizing the full commitment of the Baltimore Police Department and that of our federal partners to vigorously investigate and hold individuals accountable," said Bealefeld, calling Redd's conviction a "demonstration" of that pledge.
In a statement, Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said the city Police Department "initiated this investigation and has been a full partner in this and other pending federal cases involving allegedly corrupt police officers."
Redd, who joined the Baltimore department in 1994, was indicted in July and arrested at his district station after a joint investigation by city and federal authorities revealed that the officer was at the helm of a "significant" drug organization that "flooded" Baltimore streets with heroin, according to law enforcement officials.
The charges stunned the city, already shocked by other police scandals, including the killing of a man by an off-duty officer during a drunken bar brawl, the mistaken shooting death of a plainclothes officer by his colleagues and recent charges of theft against an officer accused of stealing groceries with her daughter's help.
The allegations against Redd were reminiscent of charges filed in 2005 against Baltimore officers William A. King and Antonio L. Murray, who were later convicted of shaking down city drug dealers and reselling their wares on the streets.
The partners were sentenced to long prison terms — 315 years for Murray and 139 years for King — that reflected the egregious nature of their crimes: spreading poison through the city they were sworn to protect.
Recordings from a wiretap show Redd, 41, used heavily coded language to arrange his own deals and meetings at area restaurants. At least once, he complained that his supplier, who obtained the heroin from Ghana, was taking too long to deliver the goods.
"I need some damn money. I ain't getting no phone calls, ain't no nothing, it ain't looking good," he said, concerned his customers would go elsewhere if they had to wait.
In a statement of facts within his plea agreement, Redd admitted conducting drug business while on duty and outside his station in the 5200 block of Reisterstown Road, and acting as security for other dealers.
On March 2, 2011, Redd procured 40 grams of heroin while "in full uniform," said Assistant U.S. Attorney James Wallner.
Redd, an Army veteran and father of three, was indicted on seven counts related to the drug trafficking and firearms violations, but pleaded guilty to only two.
Two other defendants in the case have been sentenced to 48 and 37 months, respectively. A third is scheduled for sentencing in June, and a fifth, who previously pleaded not guilty, is set for a rearraignment hearing next month.
Redd's convictions will end his police career.
He was fired from the force in 2002 after being found asleep at the Druid Hill Park reservoir while he was supposed to be on anti-terrorist duty, police told The Baltimore Sun at the time. He sued and won his job back, along with $75,000 in back pay, however.