Former 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 - Former Baltimore Police officer Jermaine Rice, age 28, of Woodstock, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to extortion under color of official right in connection with a scheme in which a repair shop owner paid police officers, including Rice, 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.
According to Rice’s plea agreement, he was a Baltimore Police Department officer assigned to the Northeast District. The Baltimore Police Department requires that police only use towing companies that are under contract with the City of Baltimore to provide towing services for the BPD. Rice admits that in July 2010, he 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 referring vehicles to the Repair Shop. The Repair Shop is not an authorized tow company with the City of Baltimore. The Repair Shop owner instructed Rice to tell accident victims that the Repair Shop would pay for the deductible to induce them to send their cars to the shop.
Between July 2010 and February 2011, when Rice would encounter an accident, he contacted the owner of the Repair Shop, rather than an authorized tow company, and provide information about the vehicle and the amount of damage.
The owner of the Repair Shop would come to the accident scene and arrange for the vehicle to be driven to the Repair Shop. For example, on December 14, 2010, Rice called the Repair Shop owner to report an accident, including the make and model of the car and the damage to the vehicle. The repair shop owner drove to the scene and met with the car’s owner. The next day, the owner drove the car to the Repair Shop and a few days later, the owner paid Rice $300 in cash.
Rice received a total of approximately $1,500 from the Repair Shop owner.
Rice 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 23, 2011 at 9:00 a.m.
David Reeping, age 41, of Arbutus, Maryland, previously pleaded guilty to the same charge and is scheduled to be sentenced on 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.