Baltimore police commissioner admits he failed to file taxes in wake of federal charges

Baltimore's top cop admitted Thursday that he failed to file federal and state income tax returns for three consecutive years after federal prosecutors hit him with misdemeanor charges.

In a statement, Baltimore Police Commissioner Darryl DeSousa said he had "failed to sufficiently prioritize my personal affairs" when he missed the deadline to file his returns for 2013, 2014 and 2015.

"Naturally, this is a source of embarrassment for me and I deeply regret any embarrassment it has caused the Police Department and the City of Baltimore," said DeSousa, who was named Baltimore's police commissioner earlier this year. "I accept full responsibility for this mistake and am committed to resolving this situation as quickly as possible."

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DeSousa said he was working with a registered tax adviser, had filed his 2016 taxes and had requested an extension on his 2017 taxes.

The U.S. Attorney's office claimed in a statement that DeSousa "willfully failed to file a federal return for tax years 2013, 2014, and 2015, despite having been a salaried employee of the Baltimore Police Department in each of those years."

Prosecutors said DeSousa faced up to one year in prison and a $25,000 fine on each of three counts of failure to file an individual tax return. However, his punishment will likely be significantly reduced in the wake of his admission.

The Baltimore Sun reported that DeSousa earns approximately $210,000 per year as police commissioner.

DeSousa was confirmed as Baltimore's police commissioner in February when Mayor Catherine Pugh fired Commissioner Kevin Davis after 2 1/2 years as top cop, saying a change in leadership was needed to oversee crime reduction strategies in the Mid-Atlantic city with an eye-popping violent crime rate.

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Pugh issued a brief statement Thursday evening saying DeSousa assured her that he's working to resolve the matter and she has "full confidence" in him.

Baltimore Councilman Ryan Dorsey, the sole council member who voted against DeSousa at his confirmation hearing, said he didn't believe he had enough information to understand the full scope of the case yet because some information remains under seal.

"I feel the most productive discussion we can have in the meantime is one that focuses on the importance of thorough vetting and thoughtful confirmation procedures for such important public positions," Dorsey said.

DeSousa, who joined Baltimore's force in 1988, had pledged to stamp out police corruption in the wake of an explosive federal investigation that exposed a task force of dirty detectives and deeply embarrassed the department already struggling with low morale and a serious public trust deficit.

In recent months, the 53-year-old commander has launched an anti-corruption unit and introduced plans for random integrity and polygraph testing. He has also vowed to comply fully with a federal consent decree authorized in January 2017 after the U.S. Justice Department released a scathing report detailing longstanding patterns of racial profiling and excessive force within the department.

During the Obama administration, the Justice Department began investigating the Baltimore police following the April 2015 death of Freddie Gray, a young black man who was fatally injured while in the custody of officers, leading to massive protests and Baltimore's worst riots in decades.

While U.S. Attorney Robert Hur commended the IRS and the FBI for their work in the ongoing case, some Maryland residents said they couldn't quite believe the latest turn of events.

"He should be held accountable and he should be penalized," said 49-year-old Phatteous Ward, a file clerk who commutes to his Baltimore job from Randallstown. "The whole city is messed up. I think they need to fire everybody and start all over."

Lt. Gene Ryan, president of the local police union, told The Baltimore Sun that he couldn't comment on the ongoing investigation, as he wasn't familiar with "any of the circumstances behind these charges."

"Obviously income taxes are a personal thing," Ryan told the newspaper. "We'll see how it pans out."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.