A judge ordered two of the seven Baltimore police officers accused of robbing citizens into detention, citing public safety.
U.S. District Judge Stephanie Gallagher said that Detectives Evodio Hendrix and Maurice Ward must remain in detention until the start of their trial, reports the Baltimore Sun.
The alleged actions of the two officers indicates “an egregious breach of public trust” as well as a “flagrant disregard of consequences of their actions,” Judge Gallagher said.
She added that the officers also had an “unusual ability to find ways around” their release terms.
Hendrix, Ward and five other Baltimore Police Department officers now face federal racketeering charges. The seven officers have been accused of stealing money from citizens, falsifying official documents and lying about the overtime they worked.
The officers are accused of stopping Baltimore residents and taking their money; they allegedly stole $1, 500 from a maintenance worker, according to court documents. The worker planned on using that money for rent.
“These are really robberies by people who are wearing police uniforms,” said Maryland US Attorney Rod Rosenstein.
Another of the officers received overtime pay when he went on a family vacation in South Carolina, court documents said. Phone calls revealed a pair of officers bragging about raking in an extra $8,000- $10,000 a month with their activities.
“This is not a case of overzealous policing. These are robberies and extortion,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Leo Wise.
Witnesses are also scared that they came forward to speak against the officers, fearing the accused officers will retaliate against them, Wise said.
Wise believes that the officers were warned about the investigation into their conduct by other officers and an assistant state’s attorney. He alleged that these potential connections could help them if they were released before their trial.
The attorneys for the defendants denied the allegations, saying that many of the crimes were committed by other officers and their clients happened to be there.
“It’s not enough,” said Paul Enzinna, Ward’s attorney. “You can’t rely on guilt by association to hold Mr. Ward in custody.”
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