Baltimore, MD – Former Baltimore Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa was sentenced to 10 months in prison for tax fraud on Friday.
“This is a sad day for you and for our city,” U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Blake said, according to WJZ. “We all agree this city needs a police force we can trust. The trust has been severely challenged over the past year. What you have done further erodes that trust.”
In December of 2018, the 54-year-old former police commissioner pleaded guilty to three counts of failing to file tax returns, The Washington Post reported.
De Sousa admitted that he did not file tax returns from 2011 to 2015, and that he claimed false deductions, allowances, and exemptions in an attempt to reduce the amount he owed to the government.
Although he didn’t own a home, De Sousa claimed a mortgage deduction. The government said he also claimed losses for a business he didn’t even have, The Washington Post reported.
The former police commissioner lied about supposed work-related expenses, and claimed charitable deductions that he never gave, WJZ reported.
Beginning in 1999, he falsely claimed nine allowances to lower the amount of taxes withheld from his paycheck, WBAL reported.
“Simply put, Darryl De Sousa is a tax cheat,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Leo Wise said, according to WJZ. “This conduct is a product of greed, contempt for the law, and a sense of entitlement on his part. There is simply no other way to describe what he did.”
According to the plea agreement, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) notified the Baltimore Police Department in 2015 that De Sousa was claiming too many allowances, and the department began withholding greater amounts out of his paychecks.
De Sousa admitted to the charges against him, but said he was taking care of his ailing parents at the time and neglected his tax obligations as a result, WBAL reported.
“I wasn’t smart enough to go to a reputable tax preparer,” he said. “I was focused on getting as much money in that check as possible.”
De Sousa’s attorneys asked the court to forgo a prison sentence altogether, while prosecutors urged Blake to send him to federal prison for a year.
“I stand here before you humbled and ashamed by what I did,” De Sousa told the court. “These were crimes of 100-percent irresponsibility and neglect. It was a failure of judgment. Period.”
"Because of my poor decisions, and taking a wrong turn, it's all gone,” the former police commissioner added, according to WBAL. “I own it.”
In addition to his 10-month prison sentence, Blake ordered De Sousa to complete 100 hours of community service and to pay $67,587.72 in restitution.
His attorney, Gerard Martin, said that De Sousa already paid off the restitution obligation by cashing out his retirement, WJZ reported.
U.S. Attorney Robert Hur said that he hopes the former police commissioner’s sentence serves as a deterrent to others.
“As police commissioner, Mr. De Sousa held a position of public trust and unfortunately, betrayed that public trust by cheating on his taxes during the course of about 10 years,” Hur said. “The laws apply to everyone whether you wear a badge or not.”
De Sousa’s 30-year law enforcement career ended abruptly in May of 2018, just days after the federal charges against him were announced, WBAL reported.
Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh had appointed him as police commissioner just four months prior.
Blake ordered De Sousa to turn himself in to federal prison within the next six to eight weeks to begin serving his sentence.
“It’s important for all citizens to understand, when they cheat on their taxes, there’s got to be consequences,” the judge reiterated.