Baltimore Police Officer Pleads Guilty to Extortion
Police Officer Paid to Steer Car Owners Involved in Accidents
to an Unauthorized Repair Shop for Towing and Repairs
Baltimore, Maryland - Baltimore Police officer David Reeping, age 41, of Arbutus, Maryland pleaded guilty today to extortion under color of official right in connection with a scheme in which a repair shop owner paid Reeping to arrange for the repair shop, rather than a city-authorized company, to tow vehicles from accident scenes and make repairs.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein, Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III.
The Baltimore Police Department requires that when police request vehicle towing services, they only use towing companies that are under contract with the City of Baltimore to provide towing services for the BPD.
According to Reeping’s plea agreement, Reeping was a Baltimore Police Department officer assigned to the Central District. Sometime in 2009, Reeping was introduced to the owner of an auto repair and towing shop in Rosedale, Maryland (the Repair Shop) and told that he could make extra money by having vehicles towed to the Repair Shop. The Repair Shop is not an authorized tow company with the City of Baltimore. The Repair Shop owner instructed Reeping to tell accident victims that the Repair Shop would pay for the deductible to induce them to have the car towed to the shop.
Between 2009 and February 2011, when Reeping would encounter an accident, he contacted the owner of the Repair Shop, rather than an authorized tow company with the city, to tow the vehicle. For example, on December 21, 2010, Reeping called the Repair Shop owner who arranged to tow a car from an accident scene. The next day, the driver of the car called the Central District inquiring about where her car was. When questioned, Reeping falsely advised his supervisor that the driver directed him to tow the car to the repair shop.
Reeping received approximately $1,000 in total from the Repair Shop owner.
Reeping faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine or twice the amount of gain or loss derived from the offense. U.S District Judge Catherine C. Blake scheduled sentencing for September 14, 2011 at 9:00 a.m.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the FBI and the Baltimore Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorneys Tonya Kelly Kowitz and Kathleen O. Gavin, who are prosecuting the case.