Evodio Hendrix, Maurice Ward Trace Task Force detectives sentenced.
Two former detectives with the corrupt Baltimore Police Gun Trace Task force were sentenced Friday to seven years in prison each, with prosecutors asking for lesser sentences due to their extensive cooperation.
Federal prosecutors vouched for former Detectives Evodio Hendrix, 32, of Randallstown and Maurice Ward, 36, of Middle River and asked U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Blake to give them sentences below the recommended guidelines. The prosecutors also disclosed that information from the officers was being used in continuing investigations.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Derek Hines said Hendrix provided information on “other officers who have not been charged at this time,” and that “there is an ongoing investigation of that episode.” Federal authorities have indicated previously that their investigation is ongoing.
The officers had worked in plainclothes police squads with Sgt. Wayne Jenkins prior to him bringing them over to the Gun Trace Task Force, where they joined forces with other officers who had also been committing robberies for years.
Hendrix and Ward apologized for their conduct Friday.
“I know my actions,” said Ward, pausing to wipe away tears, “made the trust issues with the citizens even further than they were before.”
Hendrix said he was “looking for a way out” as the crimes were being committed.
”But I couldn’t come up with one,” he told Blake. “I figured this was the way out. … I came clean, didn’t hold anything back.”
Hendrix and Ward are expected to receive the lightest sentences of the officers convicted in the case. The government sought and received tougher sentences for Jenkins and Sgt. Thomas Allers, arguing they were supervisors who were entrusted to stop misconduct. Allers was sentenced to 15 years last month, and Jenkins received 25 years on Thursday.
Det. Marcus Taylor, who fought the charges against him and was convicted by a federal jury, received 18 years Thursday. The other officer who fought the charges, Daniel Hersl, is scheduled for sentencing on June 22.
Two other officers, Jemell Rayam and Momodu Gondo, pleaded guilty and cooperated with the government, but they admitted to a much wider range of criminal conduct than Hendrix and Ward. Their sentencing dates haven’t been scheduled.
Prosecutors said members of the task force were routinely violating people’s rights, putting in for overtime for hours they did not work, and stealing drugs and money using the authority of their badge. Though the officers were charged with a handful of specific robberies, they spoke on the witness stand earlier this year of broad misconduct.
“We would target large groups of males,” Hendrix testified earlier this year, speaking about the task force’s street tactics. “The understanding was the more people, you know, the more likely you are to run into someone who actually has something illegal on their person.”
Sentencing guidelines called for Hendrix to receive between 11 and 14 years in prison. Hines recommended seven years, saying Hendrix committed fewer robberies than other officers, and did not steal before joining up with Jenkins’ unit. Hines said prosecutors saw Hendrix as “a man who made a terrible choice, went along with the co-defendants … and never had the courage to say no.”
Both Hendrix and Ward took part in a robbery in which police entered a man’s home without a warrant, found a safe stuffed with cash, and took half. They then recorded a video pretending to open the safe for the first time to cover their tracks.
Hendrix’s attorney Harvey Bruner asked for five years, less than the government’s recommendation, noting Hendrix was going to serve a “difficult” term as a former police officer and government cooperator.
Sentencing guidelines called for Ward to receive between 12.5 and 15.5 years in prison. Assistant U.S. Attorney Leo Wise asked Blake to sentence Ward to eight years, arguing he was more culpable than Hendrix but still should be credited for extensive cooperation. Wise said Ward had an “encyclopedic recall” of events he took part in.
Though he only pleaded guilty to crimes dating to 2014, Ward admitted his crimes stretched back “years before” then. Some were committed with other officers, while others he committed by himself.
In the safe robbery, Ward claimed that his cut was so large — $20,000 — that he became spooked and discarded it in a wooded area behind his home.
Defense attorney Paul Enzinna said Ward was a reluctant participant in the robberies, pointing to the episode with the $20,000. He said Ward had asked for a transfer out of the unit and was denied, and said Jenkins’ perceived status as a “golden boy” in the department limited Ward’s options.
“Who do you report [the misconduct] to?” Enzinna said. “Someone looking out for Jenkins? That’s a very dangerous situation to be in.”