Fifth Baltimore Police Officer to Plead Guilty in Gun Task Force Case

A fifth officer charged in the Baltimore police gun task force scandal is set to plead guilty, his attorney confirmed.

Sgt. Thomas Allers, who is charged with stealing more than $100,000 over three years while he was the supervisor of the Gun Trace Task Force, is scheduled to appear in federal court Wednesday. Defense attorney Gary Proctor confirmed Allers will enter a guilty plea to one count of racketeering.

Allers led a unit once praised by the Police Department as key to its crime-fighting strategy of taking guns off the streets. The unit has been disbanded, its members accused of robbing and extorting citizens, falsifying paperwork to cover their tracks and filing for unearned overtime for years.

Allers was not part of the initial indictment in February of the seven active members of the unit, but the former supervisor was charged in August with racketeering conspiracy and robbery. Federal prosecutors allege he participated in nine robberies between 2014 and 2016.

According to the indictment, Allers’ adult son, who was not a police officer, participated in a raid where $66,000 was taken by father and son and two other detectives. Allers’ son has not been charged. In another incident, police said a man robbed by Allers was unable to pay a drug debt and was murdered as a result.

Eight city police officers have been charged in the case, as well as a Philadelphia police officer who once worked in Baltimore. A trial is tentatively scheduled for January for two officers who have pleaded not guilty and another who has not entered a plea. All nine are in jail while awaiting sentencing or trial.

At least one of the officers has indicated he is ready to fight the case. In motions filed Monday, an attorney for Det. Daniel Hersl said he plans to contend that the taking of money was legally justifiable and, if pocketed, was theft and not robbery.

“Mr. Hersl will contend at trial, that the arrests and/or detentions of the suspects … and the seizure of their property, was justified by probable cause, or on good faith that probable cause was present, and, therefore, at the time of the seizure, the takings of any property from the suspects was legally justified, and therefore not ‘felonious,’ or ‘wrongful’ at the time of the taking,” defense attorney William B. Purpura wrote in a motion. “Any conversion of the seized property after the fact, was a theft.”

“The question of whether Mr. Hersl’s conduct amounted to robbery, extortion, or theft will be the central issue for the jury to decide,” Purpura wrote.

None of the officers who have pleaded guilty have been sentenced; at least two are cooperating with authorities against their former colleagues. Proctor declined to comment on whether Allers has agreed to cooperate.

Marc Zayon, a defense attorney who is not involved in the case, said it is not unusual for sentencing of co-defendants to be postponed until after verdicts have been reached for everyone charged. But he said the delay could signify that some defendants are cooperating and the government wants to ensure they uphold their part of an agreement.

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