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Board of Estimates to vote on back pay for police officer

The Baltimore Board of Estimates will vote Wednesday on whether to authorize a year’s worth of back pay for Baltimore Police Officer Milton G. Smith III, who was suspended without pay on suspicion of kidnapping and other charges.

The board is scheduled to vote on paying Smith $31,802 for the time he was suspended from May 5, 2010 through May 5, 2011. Smith and Officer Tyrone Francis were each convicted of misconduct in office on May 3 for taking two teenagers and driving them far from their homes. A third officer charged in the incident, Greg Hellen, was found not guilty.

Because Smith was convicted of misconduct in office, a misdemeanor, instead of one of the felony charges he faced, such as kidnapping, he is entitled to back pay during his suspension under the Baltimore police officers’ union contract. The city spending panel addressed Francis’ back pay during its July 20 meeting.

Smith and Francis have appealed the conviction to the Court of Special Appeals.

The three officers were tried together in a hybrid bench-jury trial where Smith and Francis faced a jury and Hellen faced Judge Timothy J. Doory. The officers faced seven identical charges including kidnapping, misconduct, false imprisonment and assault.

The jury found Smith and Francis guilty of one misdemeanor for using a police van to take the two 15-year olds away from their neighborhoods. One teen was taken from West Baltimore to the other side of town. The other was dropped off with no shoes near Patapsco Valley State Park in Howard County.

Doory found Hellen to be not guilty on all eight counts.

The officers’ trial was Baltimore City State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein’s first trial since taking office in January.

The family of one of the teenagers, Michael B. Johnson Jr., filed a lawsuit in March 2010 against the three officers as well as the city and Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III. The case had been scheduled to go trial on Aug. 23, but has been postponed. The civil trial is now slated for March 12, 2012.