Baltimore, MD – Federal prosecutors announced Thursday that they were charging Baltimore’s brand-new police commissioner with crimes related to his failure to pay taxes.
Commissioner De Sousa, 53, willfully failed to file his federal returns for the tax years 2013, 2014, and 2015 while he was a salaried employee of the Baltimore Police Department, federal prosecutors said.
The Baltimore Sun’s Justin Fenton tweeted shortly after the announcement that “Earlier sealing motion says ‘Law enforcement continues to investigate [De Sousa] for additional violations of federal criminal law.’ Disclosure ‘may compromise the on-going investigation, incl causing destruction of evidence & potential witness tampering.’”
The three misdemeanor charges the commissioner was charged with each carry a potential year-long jail sentence and up to $25,000 fine, The Baltimore Sun reported.
Commissioner De Sousa posted a statement on Twitter late Thursday afternoon that acknowledged his failure to file his taxes.
He said he was working with a tax adviser to fix things, and clarified that he had paid some income taxes through federal, state, and local taxes withheld from his salary by the police department.
"While there is no excuse for my failure to fulfill my obligations as a citizen and a public official, my only explanation is that I failed to prioritize my personal affairs," Commissioner De Sousa wrote.
"Naturally, this is a source of embarrassment for me and I deeply regret any embarrassment it has caused the Police Department or the City of Baltimore. I accept full responsibility for this mistake and am committed to resolving this situation as quickly as possible," he wrote.
Commissioner De Sousa was chief of patrol during 2013 and 2014, the first two years in question. He became deputy commissioner of the Baltimore PD’s administrative bureau in 2015, the Baltimore Fishbowl reported.
City salary records showed that Commissioner De Sousa earned more than $103,000 in gross salary in fiscal 2013, he earned around $118,000 in fiscal 2014, and he was paid nearly $131,000 in fiscal 2015, according to the Baltimore Fishbowl.
He was sworn in as commissioner of the police department on Feb. 28, and replaced former Commissioner Kevin Davis, whose administration fell under a dark cloud as his department’s Gun Trace Task Force was found to have been committing crimes all over the city.
The commissioner’s charges were announced by U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert Hur, Internal Revenue Service Acting Special Agent in Charge Kelly Jackson and Federal Bureau of Investigation Baltimore Special Field Agent Gordon Johnson, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice.
As the Gun Trace Task Force trial wrapped up with numerous convictions, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh fired Commissioner Davis in early 2018, citing his inability to stem the rising number of murders in Baltimore.
She appointed then-Deputy Commissioner De Sousa to replace Davis, and the new commissioner was sworn in after the city’s spending panel unanimously approved his $210,000 salary with a $150,000 severance attached should he be terminated without cause later, The Baltimore Sun reported. He was confirmed by the city council 14 to 1, without debate.
The Baltimore Sun reported that he was the first commissioner to rise up through the ranks to head of the Baltimore Police Department since Frederick H. Bealefeld III, who retired in 2012. There were two commissioners appointed in between Bealefeld and Commissioner De Sousa.
Baltimore Police Spokesman T.J. Smith said the department would be releasing a statement later on Thursday, and other department officials appeared to be surprised by the news, the Baltimore Fishbowl reported.
Deputy Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle told The Baltimore Sun he didn’t have any information about Commissioner De Sousa being charged.
“I know zero about it,” he said.
Pugh’s spokesman, Greg Tucker, told The Baltimore Sun that Commissioner De Sousa retains the mayor’s confidence and she has not asked him to resign.