Articles Posted in Crimes

The Gun Trace Task Force was an elite unit within the Baltimore City Police Department tasked with getting illegal guns off the streets.  But as a blockbuster federal investigation revealed, GTTF members were themselves criminals of the worst kind: crooked cops who conspired to terrorize the very same citizens they swore to protect and defend.  Their misconduct was shocking even for a City accustomed to police scandals: suspicion-less stops and arrests, writing false police reports and fake search warrants, lying in court, planting evidence, beating detainees, robbing citizens, and on and on.  Some measure of justice was achieved after the officers involved were convicted of federal conspiracy charges, but the battle to ensure appropriate compensation for the victims is ongoing.  A recent decision by the Maryland Court of Appeals in two cases brought by GTTF victims represents an important victory in that battle.

In Baltimore City Police Department, et al. v. Ivan Potts, Misc. No. 6, September Term, 2019, and Mayor and City Council of Baltimore v. Estate of William James, No. 51, Sept. Term, 2019 (, the Court considered whether Baltimore City and the Police Department should be forced to pay judgments against GTTF officers obtained by two victims, Ivan Potts and William James.  The facts of their cases are egregious, but sadly typical of the crimes committed by the GTTF officers.

Ivan Potts

The Maryland Assembly has recently passed the Justice Reinvestment Act which is generally aimed at significantly reduces Maryland’s prison population. Our partner, Judge Joe Murphy (ret.) played a key role in formulating much of this legislation. The legislation passed the House by a vote of 122-19 and the Senate 46-0. Gov. Hogan is expected to sign the bill into law this spring.

Many major policy changes are highlighted below in this text but include a unique opportunity for inmates serving mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses an unprecedented opportunity to return to court and ask for a sentence modification.

Some other highlights to the bill include:
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I have represented both businesses and individuals before the Maryland Securities Commissioner on both civil and criminal charges stemming from selling unregistered securities. Most are under the impression that these enforcement actions by the Commissioner are civil in nature. Although this is most often the case, a criminal prosecution could result as well.

Selling unregistered securities or acting as an unregistered sales agent in Maryland is potentially punishable both with fines and imprisonment. Such penalties are contained in Title 11, the Maryland Securities Act, in the Corporations and Associations Article of the Maryland Code rather than the Criminal Law Article. Criminal penalties, however, are only likely to be imposed when a person willfully violates a provision of the Maryland Securities Act or an order of the Attorney General Securities Commission. MD. CODE., CORPS. & ASS’NS § 11-705. The statute specifically points out that “a person may not be imprisoned for the violation of any rule or order if the person proves that the person had no knowledge of the rule or order.” MD. CODE., CORPS. & ASS’NS § 11-705(a)(3).

While selling unregistered securities or acting as an unregistered sales agent are acts that could possibly be committed in conjunction with codified crimes such as embezzlement or larceny, there is not a specific statute in the Maryland Criminal Law Article that criminalizes selling unregistered securities or acting as an unregistered sales agent. Nevertheless, the Maryland legislature has enacted the Maryland Securities Act in Title 11 of the Corporations and Associations Article of the Maryland Code. The Division of Securities in the Office of the Attorney General is in charge of administering the Maryland Securities Act and can bring court action against violators of the Act. MD. CODE., CORPS. & ASS’NS § 11-201(a).

The Act states that a person violates the Maryland Securities Act if the person acts as a broker-dealer or agent and transacts business in the State of Maryland without being registered. MD. CODE., CORPS. & ASS’NS § 11-401. After giving notice and conducting a hearing, the Commissioner of the Division of Securities may fine any broker-dealer or agent up to a maximum amount of $5,000 for any single violation of the Maryland Securities Act. MD. CODE., CORPS. & ASS’NS § 11-417.
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Maryland criminal defense attorneys are seeing more prosecutions involving the exploitation of vulnerable adults. Section 8-801 of the Maryland Code Annotated, Criminal Law provides for a criminal action against a person who exploits a vulnerable adult. The elements are:

1. The victim is a vulnerable adult
a. A vulnerable adult, as defined in § 3-604 of the Criminal Law Article is an adult who lacks the physical or mental capacity to provide for the adult’s daily needs.
b. § 8-801(b)(2) prohibits exploitation of an individual who is “at least 68 years old” and does not appear to require the victim in this case to be classified as a “vulnerable adult”
2. The defendant knew or should have known that the victim was a vulnerable adult 3. The defendant knowingly and willfully obtained possession to the victim’s property by deception, intimidation, or undue influence, and a. Undue influence does not include the normal influence that one member of a family has over another member of the family, but means domination and influence amounting to force and coercion such that the vulnerable adult of individual over 68 years old was prevented from exercising free judgment and choice.
b. Deception is defined in § 7-101 and states that deception occurs when “a person knowingly either creates or confirms in another a false impression that the offender does not believe to be true or fails to correct a false impression that the offender previously has created or confirmed.
4. The defendant intended to deprive the victim of her property.

A person is guilty of conspiracy to exploit a vulnerable adult under Section 8-801 where the State can prove that:

a. An unlawful agreement was entered into by two or more persons,
b. To deprive a vulnerable adult of the vulnerable adult’s property by deception, intimidation, or undue influence.
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