BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A judge sentenced a Baltimore City Police sergeant in a high-profile misconduct case, involving city police and alleged victim intimidation with a dead rat.
Mike Hellgren reports the 19-year veteran of the department had a previously clean record.
Prosecutors had pushed for jail time to teach a lesson, but they only got probation. The sergeant could still lose his job. He says the conviction has torn his life apart.
The trouble started in a crumbling East Baltimore neighborhood, during the arrest of 32-year-old Antoine Green. Police claimed Green fled from them as they tried to make a drug arrest and then broke into the home of a police officer’s girlfriend on Prentiss Place. The girlfriend called 911 as well as her boyfriend, Officer Anthony Williams. He was off-duty at the time.
That’s when things heated up.
Police arrested Green and were en route to take him to Central Booking when prosecutors say Williams asked for Green to be returned to the home on Prentiss Place, where Williams was waiting to assault the suspect.
Prosecutors say Sergeant Marinos Gialamas allowed it.
A jury later convicted Williams of beating Green and of obstructing and hindering the internal affairs investigation that followed.
Judge M. Brooke Murdock gave Williams a jail sentence of 45 days, rare for an officer.
Though Williams got jail time, Sgt. Gialamas did not. He was convicted of misconduct and sentenced to probation.
Gialamas claimed he did not know Williams before this incident and was unaware this was the home of his girlfriend. He told Judge Murdock the case has been devastating to him and his family. His lawyer said Gialamas’ wife was too emotional to be in court, but Gialamas’ sister, father and mother were at Courthouse East for the sentencing.
“I never thought a split-second decision doing my job would lead me to this situation,” Gialamas said to the judge. He is vowing to “fight hard” to keep his job.
That will be up to Baltimore City Police. He must report to them within 48 hours for fingerprinting and has 30 days to appeal.
Murdock sentenced Gialamas to 6 months in jail but–despite the request of the prosecutor–suspended all of it, which means he will not go behind bars. She ordered Gialamas to perform 250 hours of community service. He will be on probation for one year. After that, Murdock could wipe the conviction from his record.
Police union president Robert Cherry worked with Gialamas.
“No police officer–a good, honest, hardworking officer–expects to see themselves sitting at the defendant’s table,” said Bob Cherry, Fraternal Order of Police president.
The judge said the sergeant “exploited the trust of the city police department and of the citizens of Baltimore.”
“Sgt. Gialamas did what any other cop in Baltimore City would do: he trusted this off-duty officer that he had more information or something to give to the case,” Cherry said.
The case took a bizarre turn when a detective, Joe Crystal, agreed to testify against Williams and Gialamas. He claims he was intimidated after someone put a dead rat on his windshield to send a message.
Crystal’s father told WJZ his son fears more retaliation for his cooperation in the case.
“I am so proud of my son. Joe never wanted to hurt anyone. He just wanted to do his job, and he did it as he was sworn to. I think this is something straight out of the Old South in the 1960s, and the citizens of Baltimore have to live like this? I’m glad I live in Florida,” Robert Crystal said.
No one has been named responsible for the rat incident.
After bringing the initial misconduct charges against Williams and Gialamas, State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein said, “As always, we stand committed to investigating claims of police misconduct and, when appropriate, prosecuting officers who violate the law.”
Baltimore City Police Commissioner Anthony Batts issued this statement in the case: “Any activity that undermines the integrity of the Baltimore Police Department simply won’t be tolerated. Our continued commitment to the people of Baltimore is that all allegations of misconduct and corruption among the ranks of the Baltimore Police Department will be vigorously investigated.”
Prosecutors eventually dropped burglary and drug charges against Green.
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