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Baltimore prosecutor seeks to throw out nearly 800 criminal convictions

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Nearly 800 criminal cases involving 25 police officers suspected of corruption are set to be thrown out in Baltimore, according to the city’s chief prosecutor.

The 25 officers include eight who were in the now-defunct Gun Trace Task Force, six of whom pleaded guilty to corruption charges and two who were convicted in February 2018, said Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby. Prosecutors said those officers used their authority to rob suspects of drugs and money.

The state began investigating additional cases after an additional 17 officers were implicated during the trial and plea deals stemming from the Gun Trace Task Force, Mosby said. The state’s attorney’s office has investigated 2,500 cases so far and will file to vacate 790 cases in which the officers suspected were deemed to be “material” to the case, she said.

Kim Deachilla, a spokeswoman for Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police, expressed concern in a statement about how the State’s Attorney Office determined which cases to vacate.

“It is our hope that each case was considered individually, rather than a blanket decision being made to matter-of-factly eliminate all cases,” she said.

Baltimore police did not respond to a request for comment.

Mosby said that her office started with cases in which the defendants were incarcerated, and that she does not believe any defendants of the cases are still incarcerated.

“It’s been a Herculean sort of task to go through all of these cases,” Mosby said.

When the process began in March 2017, Mosby said courts were denying requests to vacate because her office did not have the legal right to do so. Her office then drafted and lobbied for a bill granting her that authority that became law on October 1.

Mosby said that the corruption cases began at different times for the officers, and that the cases date back as far as 2003. She said although the convictions are relatively old, getting them vacated is still important.

“The responsibility of prosecutors is to seek justice over convictions and to ensure we are righting the wrong of unjust convictions,” she said.

Mosby said the cases are mostly related to guns and drugs, but “it’s all over the map.”

Going forward, she said she expects her office to file about 200 cases a week, and that the court will hear about half of those cases. She said none of the cases will be retried, and that she expects the process to be a formality.

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