Posted on May 17, 2018

Baltimore Police Commissioner De Sousa Resigns Amid Federal Tax Charges

Kevin Rector and Ian Duncan, Baltimore Sun, May 15, 2018

Baltimore Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa resigned Tuesday amid a growing federal investigation into his personal finances and other private and professional affairs, prompting Mayor Catherine E. Pugh to announce a national search for his replacement just days after she expressed continued confidence in him.

De Sousa’s departure—after 30 years in the department and less than four months at its helm—comes amid revelations that the federal prosecutors who charged him last week with failing to file federal tax returns are probing deeper into his past. They have issued subpoenas to the city’s finance and police departments for a decade’s worth of information about his pay, travel, secondary jobs, taxes and internal affairs files, among other things.

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“This can’t be good. It means more chaos. It means more lack of leadership,” said Peter Moskos, a former Baltimore police officer who is now a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. “You need a strong leader who can stick around and have a vision and get things done. Who knows when there will be another commissioner and whether the commissioner will be good? It’s another punch.”

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Council members have expressed disappointment in De Sousa in recent days, but largely tried to pass the responsibility for his hiring and vetting onto Pugh. City Councilman Brandon Scott, who chairs the Public Safety Committee, said De Sousa’s resignation and other recent turmoil in the police department’s upper ranks comes at a time when the city can’t “afford those distractions,” and reiterated past calls for the commissioner position to be replaced with a board of commissioners.

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De Sousa is charged with three federal misdemeanor counts of willfully failing to file federal income tax returns in 2013, 2014 and 2015. After the charges were unsealed Thursday, De Sousa admitted in a statement on Twitter that he did not file state or federal tax returns in those years, but said he did have taxes withheld from his police salary and had filed returns in 2016 and for an extension in 2017. He wrote his “only explanation” was that he had “failed to sufficiently prioritize [his] personal affairs.”

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De Sousa is not incarcerated, but faces up to a year in prison and a $25,000 fine for each charge. A date had not been set for his initial appearance in court. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Baltimore declined to comment on his resignation.

As commissioner, De Sousa was earning $210,000. By resigning, he is not eligible to receive severance, but is eligible to be paid out for accrued leave and other benefits, according to his contract.

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