Crooked cops in Baltimore were on the minds of the U.S. Supreme Court justices on Tuesday. The court heard arguments in the case of a police officer involved in a kickback scheme.
Samuel Ocasio was convicted in 2011 for playing a role in a scheme where officers would encourage people in accidents to get their cars fixed at a specific Rosedale auto repair shop. The officers collected money from the owners of Majestic Auto Repair Shop for sending them the business.
Such small-time graft may seem below the purview of the highest court in the land. But there’s a constitutional question of whether Ocasio should have been charged with “conspiracy to extort.” In legal terms, a conspiracy means two or more people agree to commit a criminal act. According to Reuters, Ocasio’s lawyers argued that the exchange of money involved in the extortion case doesn’t represent a conspiracy.
The justices won’t offer their final opinion until June, but raised the specter that the charge could be an example of “over-criminalization,” where prosecutors trumped up charges.
No matter how the court rules, Ocasio’s convictions on two other charges will still stand.
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