Det. Jemell Rayam

Jamell Rayam, one of at least eight city police officers who worked together for years to sell drugs and guns, rob drug dealers and civilians and steal from taxpayers by falsifying overtime hours, has pleaded guilty to one felony charge of racketeering.

Federal prosecutors announced yesterday that Rayam admitted to committing an array of violent and drug-related crimes as a member of the Baltimore Police Department’s plainclothes Gun Trace Task Force Unit. Among them: 15 robberies between June 2014 and October 2016, multiple instance of trafficking in drugs and guns, diverting his fellow officers away from crime scenes and filing false incident reports to cover it all up.

Here are a few highlights from his run with the task force mentioned by prosecutors:

  • October 2016: Rayam and Det. Momodu Gondo install a non-court-approved tracking device on a drug dealer’s car so they can see when he’s not home. Rayam and accomplice Glen Kyle Wells (not a police officer) then break into the apartment and steal a Rolex, a gun, between $12,000 and $14,000 in cash and at least 800 grams of heroin. Rayam wears a ski mask and carries his service weapon during the robbery. They split the money, Wells sells some of the drugs and the gun and Rayam gets a cut. Rayam then sells the rest of the heroin himself through an associate.
  • July 2016: Rayam, Det. Daniel Hersl and Gondo detain two victims during a stop where Rayam steals some of their money. Under orders from supervisor Sgt. Wayne Jenkins, they bring their detainees to a police facility and interrogate them, with Jenkins pretending he’s a federal prosecutor. They arrange a deal: no “punishment” for the detainees if they give them more money. The four cops then bring the couple home, go inside and steal $20,000, ultimately splitting it four ways. Rayam writes a fake incident report, which Jenkins approves.
  • June 2014: Rayam and his colleagues search a birdseed store and find nothing illegal, but learn the couple who owns the business have $20,000 in cash that they plan to spend paying off tax debts on two homes. Rayam arranges to rob their house with two associates (not police officers), who go inside while he waits out in his squad car. “Rayam remained in the car so he could intercept the police officers that responded to the incident by pretending to respond to the incident himself,” prosecutors wrote. He gets a cut of the money.

Rayam also admitted to other thievery, including faking overtime hours for himself and his fellow task force members.

He was a member of the police force from 2005 through mid-2017. Police spokesman T.J. Smith said in an email yesterday that Rayam “separated from the agency on July 31,” and was suspended without pay after he was indicted March 1.

Rayam is the third member of the task force to plead guilty, following Dets. Evodio Hendrix and Maurice Ward in July. He now faces up to 20 years in prison.

Five others’ cases still need to go before a judge, including Sgt. Thomas Allers, who was indicted separately in late August. Allers, considered to have been in charge of the entire conspiracy, faces nine counts of robbery extortion. He also faces up to 20 years in prison.

Another surprising detail announced by prosecutors yesterday: There was at least one other officer involved in the racketeering conspiracy who wasn’t a member of the task force, which means the criminal activity wasn’t confined to just their unit.

Ethan McLeod is a freelance reporter in Baltimore. He previously worked as an editor for the Baltimore Business Journal and Baltimore Fishbowl. His work has appeared in Bloomberg CityLab, Next City and...