Tim Prudente, Baltimore Sun, October 25, 2017
Baltimore Police Detective Momodu Gondo robbed people of more than $100,000, often handcuffing criminals only to steal their cash, drugs and guns.
Facing decades in prison himself, the former detective broke that code, testifying in federal court against the man he called his “best friend,” Glen Kyle Wells.
Gondo told jurors he ran interference for Wells and other alleged heroin dealers working with Wells, protecting them from honest police officers who would arrest them and rogue officers who would rob them.
Gondo, 34, and his former police partner, Jemell Rayam, 37, both testified Wednesday, telling jurors they robbed another drug dealer in October 2015 under a plan hatched by Wells.
The trial has proceeded in U.S. District Court despite threats against witnesses. Visitors were banned from bringing electronics into the courtroom out of concern that they might record or photograph those who testified.
After one man testified nervously to buying heroin, District Judge Catherine Blake told the defendants to make no gestures toward witnesses. Wise decided not to bring forth one witness who had been called from a blocked phone number and warned, “Testify and die.”
Through days of testimony, patterns emerged among those who spoke of their addiction. Middle-class and suburban, some from Towson or Bel Air, they told jurors their addictions began with prescription painkillers, such as Percocet and OxyContin, before they resorted to the cheaper substitute of heroin. One gram of heroin, they said, cost $120 on the street.
Police and prosecutors say more than 60 people overdosed and 15 died from heroin investigators traced back to Shropshire’s crew.
A wiretap investigation of the alleged drug crew led to Gondo, which then revealed what prosecutors called a rogue unit within the Baltimore Police Department. Prosecutors say members of the elite Gun Trace Task Force robbed drug dealers and innocent civilians for years. Four officers have pleaded guilty to the racketeering conspiracy, including Gondo and Rayam. Four more head to trial next year, including one former commander, Sgt. Wayne Jenkins.
After taking command of the Gun Trace Task Force, Jenkins began targeting Wells last year, Gondo testified.
“He was like an animal, just overly aggressive,” Gondo said. “He was out of control.”
Jenkins texted Wells to arrange a drug buy, but Gondo said they recognized the trap from the awkward slang in the message. Prosecutors played a wiretapped phone call during which Gondo reassured Wells, saying he would confront Jenkins.
He made his move after the Gun Trace Task Force officers robbed a Carroll County couple of $20,000 in July 2016, Gondo said.
“I told him to back off. Basically, that’s my friend,” Gondo said in court.
“What was his reaction?” asked Wise, the prosecutor.
“He basically bowed out,” Gondo said.