BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The eighth Baltimore police officer indicted in connection with a corruption scandal involving an elite gun task force pleaded not guilty Thursday.
Sgt. Thomas Allers, 49, was arrested after authorities say he stole more than $90,000 from victims in a racketeering conspiracy and tipped off fellow officers to a corruption investigation.
He’s charged with nine counts of robbery and extortion for allegedly stealing money from victims, some of which had not committed any crimes, and submitting false reports.
Federal prosecutors say Allers headed an elite task force and used his position of trust to rob citizens over and over again.
Prosecutors say Allers sometimes robbed citizens while they were restrained in front of their kids.
“This does lead to a decrease in public confidence in the police department. Hopefully it’s not unshakable,” said University of Baltimore criminologist Dr. Jeffrey Ian Ross.
Seven officers of the unit have also been indicted, Allers is accused of tipping off authorities to the investigation.
The indictment alleges some of the robberies took place outside of the City in Baltimore and Anne Arundel Counties.
Allers’ family members played the song “Dirty Laundry” by Don Henley while entering court Thursday.
One of the victims he is accused of stealing from was later shot and killed because he could not repay a drug-related debt.
In another case, Allers and other officers found $6,000 while serving a search warrant at a Baltimore home. They are accused of stealing $5,700, and then filing a false report that said they only found $233.
Allers is also accused of stealing a girl’s birthday money from her mother’s purse, along with money the woman was going to use to pay her rent and gas bill.
His lawyer, Gary Proctor, once represented one of the officers charged in the Freddie Gray case.
“This would be draining on anyone,” Proctor said. “Especially someone who is sworn to serve and protect his whole life, So is he struggling? Of course he is.”
The acting U.S. attorney, Stephen Schenning, spoke about the breach of trust involving the gun unit. Two members entered guilty pleas, the rest maintain their innocence.
“It’s just so serious,” Schenning said. “The first thing that any law enforcement agency requires is the trust and faith of the community, and this kind of conduct just makes it incredibly difficult to achieve.”
He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for the conspiracy, the robberies, and for racketeering.
He has been ordered detained until his trial.
The Baltimore Police Department released the following statement Wednesday:
“The Baltimore Police Department remains dedicated to constitutional policing. I condemn any and all criminal activity that erodes our trust with the community. We are and have been embedded with the FBI /Baltimore field office’s Public Corruption Task Force. This partnership ensures that police officers that commit criminal misconduct will face the certainty of accountability.”
Prosecutors also shared a four-page suicide note found at Allers home with Judge which raised concerned for his wife.
Proctor said his client wrote the note back in July and has since been to counseling.