Retired Police Officer Sues Commissioner,
Faces Termination for Corruption
TELL IT TO THE JUDGE: Former Baltimore police
officer Jacqueline Folio has asked the courts to settle
her dispute with the city.
Jacqueline Folio believes she is no longer a
cop,
having filed retirement papers on March 17
under orders from Baltimore Police Department
Commissioner Leonard Hamm (“Cop Out,” April 6).
BPD, though, believes she is still on the force
because Hamm later rescinded his retirement
order—though not until after Folio filed for
retirement. So, in a lawsuit filed April 29, Folio
asked the U.S. District Court to settle the dispute.
Named as defendants are Hamm and two former
BPD lawyers: Sean Malone, now the city’s labor
commissioner, and Karen Kruger, who works as an
attorney for the Harford County government.
On May 2, one business day after Folio sued, BPD
held an administrative hearing on corruption
charges against Folio, after months of delay. Folio
claims in her lawsuit that one such delay, prompted
by Hamm’s order for her to retire one business day
before a scheduled March 14 hearing, was designed
to deprive her of the opportunity to present a
strong defense. This time, though, the hearing
went on without Folio or her lawyer there to mount
a defense. Thus, BPD’s lawyer—Kruger, on loan
from Harford County and fresh from being served
as a defendant in Folio’s lawsuit—made her case
without opposition.

Thus, Folio—who spent 15 of her 43 years at BPD—
finds herself in the unusual position of facing
termination after she retired. She’s now busy
preparing for a second career as a house painter.
“I’m in the process of getting my own business
started,” she says. “I’m done with law enforcement.”

BPD spokesman Matt Jablow says that during the
hearing Kruger told the three-member hearing
board that Folio perjured herself in order to falsely
arrest a suspect, Leon Burgess, during a March
2003 police-corruption sting. The accusations were
the same Folio had been acquitted of in Baltimore
City Circuit Court in December 2003. Jablow says
the trial board ruled that Folio is not retired, upheld
15 of the 18 charges against her, and
recommended termination for 12 of them. As of
press time, Hamm had not yet taken the board’s
advice, though Folio expects him to fire her.

“I was told that they put the trial board on today
without us there,” Folio said in a phone message to
City Paper shortly after the May 2 hearing. “The hits
just keep on coming,” she added. Two days later,
when CP contacted her for comment about the
outcome, she hadn’t yet been notified by BPD that
charges were sustained for termination.

“I can’t believe they went through with it,” she said.
“And I’m surprised they didn’t find me guilty on all
of them. I’m sure [Hamm] is going to sign off on it.
I mean, it’s what they all wanted.”

The dispute arose from a police integrity sting
conducted on March 27, 2003. The operation,
designed by the police Internal Affairs Division, was
intended to catch an officer failing to properly turn
in abandoned contraband—in this case, suspected
drugs and money. The items were placed in a bag
under a bush next to Patterson Park, and an
Internal Affairs detective called Baltimore City 911
to report a felony in progress: In the call, he said
that a person matching a detailed description was in
the area, dealing drugs and keeping the stash
under the bush.

Folio responded to the scene and spotted a young
man leaving the area who fit the description given
by the dispatcher. She recovered the bag from
under the bush while her colleagues collared the
suspect, Burgess, for possession with intent to
distribute drugs. Folio proceeded to follow standard
procedure, doing the requisite paperwork on the
arrest and submitting the contraband to evidence
control. But in her sworn statement of probable
cause to arrest Burgess, Folio wrote that she saw
him “place” the bag under the bush. Since Internal
Affairs, not Burgess, had stashed the bag there,
Folio’s dubious statement was the basis for
immediately suspending her on suspicion of perjury
and misconduct.

The falsely arrested suspect, Leon Burgess, spent
more than eight hours in police custody for a crime
that was faked by the Internal Affairs Division,
whose detectives purposefully called in a description
matching his. In the wee hours of the morning on
March 28, 2003, after being reread his Miranda
rights as if he were still charged with a felony,
Burgess was interrogated by Sean Malone, then
BPD’s chief of special projects, and Internal Affairs
detectives—all of whom knew Burgess was
innocent. After Burgess’ release that morning, and
before he testified against Folio during the
December 2003 trial when she was acquitted, he
was arrested for several crimes, including violent
ones. The Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office,
which was pursuing the charges against Folio,
declined to prosecute Burgess for any of the alleged
crimes.

Folio believes that Internal Affairs’ police work, not
hers, was reprehensible, and that the accusations
against her were made in an effort to distract
attention from the real crime: that Internal Affairs’
sting was designed to result in the false arrest of an
innocent civilian. In asking the U.S. District Court to
determine whether or not she is retired, Folio’s
lawsuit accuses Hamm, Malone, and Kruger of
conspiring to remove her from her job “without due
process of law”—that is, without a trial-board
hearing, where Folio and her attorney, Clarke
Ahlers, would have aired publicly the department’s
culpability in Burgess’ arrest.

Jablow says BPD has no comment about the
lawsuit. Folio, though, is adamant that she’s retired,
not fired. “If I was still a police officer,” she asks,
“then why the hell wasn’t I . . . charged with being
absent without leave? I haven’t been to work since
the commissioner ordered me to retire in March.”
Reprinted with permission - © 2006 Baltimore City Paper
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Cops Stinging
Cops
Absent With Cause
Second article in a series by Van Smith, Baltimore City
Paper
By Van Smith
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The series of articles reprinted here provides a rare
and detailed insight into "cops stinging cops" with
everybody getting stung.
Copyright © 2018  Barry M. Baker  
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