Feds charge BPD Commissioner De Sousa with failure to file tax returns from 2013 through 2015

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Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa. Photo via Baltimore Police Department.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa on Thursday has admitted he failed to file federal tax returns for three straight years in 2013, 2014 and 2015, hours after federal prosecutors announced charges against him carrying possible jail time and tens of thousands in fines.

“While there is no excuse for my failure to fulfill my obligations as a citizen and public official, my only explanation is that I failed to sufficiently prioritize my personal affairs,” De Sousa said in a statement put out by the Baltimore Police Department.

“Naturally, this is a source of embarrassment for me and I deeply regret any embarrassment it has caused the Police Department and the City of Baltimore. I accept full responsibility for this mistake and am committed to resolving this situation as quickly as possible.”

The city’s top cop noted he has been paying federal, state and local taxes “regularly” when through salary withholding, and said he filed his 2016 taxes and has received an extension for 2017. He is “working to satisfy the filing requirements and, to that end, have been working with a registered tax advisor,” he said.

In a statement, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh acknowledged De Sousa “made a mistake in not filing his taxes for the years in question. He is working to resolve this matter and has assured me that he will do so as quickly as possible.”

“I have full confidence in Darryl De Sousa in his capacity as Commissioner of the Baltimore Police Department and trust that he will continue to focus on our number one priority of reducing violence,” Pugh said.

Federal prosecutors announced the misdemeanor charges Thursday afternoon, saying in a release that “De Sousa willfully failed to file a federal return for tax years 2013, 2014, and 2015, despite having been a salaried employee of the Baltimore Police Department in each of those years.” He faces up to a year in prison and a $25,000 fine for each of his three offenses.

During the first two years, 2013 and 2014, De Sousa served as chief of patrol for BPD. He was promoted to the role of deputy commissioner of the BPD’s administrative bureau in 2015, according to his bio.

Federal court documents say De Sousa was paid at least $93,104 in gross income in 2013, at least $101,985 in 2014 and at least $127,089 in 2015. His salary as police commissioner is roughly $210,000, under a contract approved by the city’s spending board in February.

Federal authorities are investigating him further.

“Law enforcement continues to investigate the defendant for additional violations of federal criminal law,” a sealing motion document filed Tuesday says. The motion was unsealed Thursday.

U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert Hur, Internal Revenue Service Acting Special Agent in Charge Kelly Jackson and FBI Baltimore Special Field Agent Gordon Johnson announced the charges, according to the DOJ release.

Pugh appointed De Sousa as BPD’s 40th commissioner in January, replacing Kevin Davis after two and a half years at the helm of the department.

“I’m impatient,” she said at a press conference on Jan. 19. “We need violence reduction. We need the numbers to go down faster than they are.”

De Sousa spoke at the presser of the urgent need to cut down on crime, something he and Pugh have since touted through the spring by pointing to statistical reductions in homicides, shootings and various categories of violent and property crime. Some of those statistical cuts have shrunk in recent weeks as crime and shootings have spiked in Baltimore, police ComStat data show.

His hiring drew some outrage from activists, who pointed to his record of involvement in two police-involved shootings in 1995 that left three people dead. De Sousa was cleared of any wrongdoing in both incidents, The Sun reported in January.

This story has been updated.

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in Baltimore City Paper, Leafly, DCist and BmoreArt, among other outlets. He enjoys basketball, humid Mid-Atlantic summers and story tips.
Ethan McLeod
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