Two Baltimore police commanders have been cleared of criminal wrongdoing after an investigation into whether they improperly received overtime payments, the city state's attorney's office announced.
But City Councilman Brandon Scott said he was concerned about how the case was handled and said he would call for an investigative hearing at City Hall. Scott had initiated the investigation into the matter with the office of the inspector general before it was referred to the prosecutors' office.
State's Attorney Gregg Bernstein had represented Capt. Robert Quick, one of the officers under investigation, in a civil lawsuit in 2000 when Bernstein was a private attorney. A spokesman for Bernstein said that a "comprehensive review determined there was no conflict of interest" in Bernstein's office overseeing the investigation.
Quick and Ian Dombroski were promoted in August 2011 from lieutenant to the rank of deputy major — a command-level rank now known as captain, according to a statement from Bernstein's office and documents obtained by The Baltimore Sun. While lieutenants are entitled to overtime pay, deputy majors are not.
But for a period of time, prosecutors said, both commanders were serving as deputy majors while being compensated as lieutenants, and continued to receive overtime payments. Prosecutors said that "on a number of occasions," overtime request forms for one of the commanders were entered into the payroll system twice, resulting in double payments.
In a statement Tuesday, prosecutors said that "evidence obtained during the investigation did not indicate that the receipt of overtime compensation under these circumstances constituted criminal behavior." Regarding the double payments, they said there was "no evidence that the captain had knowledge of the error to warrant criminal prosecution."
It was not clear whether either commander would be asked to pay back any of the funds.
The investigation into overtime payments broadened after a search warrant was served on the offices of the Violent Crimes Impact Section unit in June. Janice Bledsoe, the prosecutor who led the investigation as well as other police misconduct cases for Bernstein's office, resigned later in the summer before the investigation was complete.
Prosecutors said the Quick and Dombroski case now goes to the Police Department's internal affairs investigators, who could pursue internal sanctions.
Scott said he was upset with the prosecutors' finding.
"Nothing in the documents say that the overtime abuse did not occur, and I will be calling for an investigative hearing asking the BPD to provide all documents pertaining to the issue and suggesting that they speak with outside counsel for advice on how to handle the matter going forward," Scott said.
Bernstein has referred other cases to outside prosecutors, including a case involving his son and an investigation involving Clerk of Courts Frank Conaway. But prosecutors determined that wasn't necessary in this case.
Bernstein represented Quick when he was sued by the family of Larry J. Hubbard Jr., who was shot by Officer Barry Hamilton after police said Hubbard tried to grab Quick's gun during a frantic scuffle in East Baltimore in 1999.
Hubbard was shot in the back of the head, and some witnesses disputed the police account, saying Hubbard was beaten and shot in cold blood. There were federal investigations into the high-profile case, but the officers were not charged with crimes.
The city paid $500,000 to settle the case.
"They were confronted by a life-threatening situation," Bernstein said at the time. "They acted entirely within standard police procedures. ... Officer Hamilton had no choice but to shoot him."
firstname.lastname@example.org Text NEWS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun local news text alerts