BALTIMORE (AP) — A Baltimore police commissioner who resigned last year after less than four months on the job was sentenced Friday to 10 months in prison for failing to file federal tax returns, a crime that ended his law enforcement career and was another headline-making embarrassment for the city.
Darryl De Sousa was sentenced in a federal courtroom in Baltimore, telling the judge he was “humbled and ashamed for what I did.” After initially portraying the tax crimes as a simple oversight, he later pleaded guilty to three counts of failure to file individual returns for 2013 to 2015 and admitted in a plea agreement he falsely inflated deductions years before that.
With members of his family and a few longtime friends sitting in the courtroom gallery, De Sousa said his “terrible decision” had resulted in the humiliating collapse of his 30-year career in Baltimore law enforcement and dealt a major blow to his reputation.
“I basically lost it all,” De Sousa told U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake.
Prosecutors had sought one year in prison for De Sousa, whose lawyer sought probation or home detention. He had faced as much as three years behind bars.
Describing it as a “sad day” for De Sousa and the city of Baltimore, Blake said the former top police commander had to be incarcerated to send a strong message of deterrence.
“This city needs a police force it can trust,” the federal judge said.
In De Sousa’s plea agreement, he admitted claiming deductions he wasn’t entitled to, including mortgage interest and property taxes when he had no mortgage or real property. The agreement states he also falsely claimed thousands in unreimbursed employee expenses and charitable donations that he never actually gave.
In total, the combined tax due was nearly $68,000.
De Sousa’s tax fraud case was handled by the same U.S. prosecutors who last year prosecuted eight members of a rogue Baltimore police unit called the Gun Trace Task Force. One disgraced detective, Jemell Rayam, testified that he also claimed false deductions on his taxes.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Leo Wise said De Sousa’s actions were no personal oversight. He said De Sousa engaged in a scheme to underpay or altogether avoid his tax responsibilities for years, illustrating a toxic sense of entitlement and a view that the law didn’t apply to him.
“Simply put, your honor, Darryl De Sousa is a tax cheat,” Wise told the judge.
Rising through the Baltimore force’s ranks since the late 1980s, De Sousa’s speedy downfall after being named commissioner early last year was a blow to Mayor Catherine Pugh and the City Council, which nearly unanimously authorized his promotion.
His resignation, which came days after his federal charges, blew open a window into City Hall’s flawed vetting and administrative blunders.
De Sousa’s eldest sibling, Denise, and buddy Darren Sanders, a former city policeman who now works as security chief for the Baltimore Ravens football team, spoke on De Sousa’s behalf before sentencing. Among other things, they said he was under great emotional stress for years helping to care for his mother who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and his father who had Parkinson’s.
De Sousa’s lawyer said his client has cashed in retirement savings to pay for restitution.
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