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Government seeks one-year sentence for De Sousa for serial tax fraud

Former Baltimore Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa. (File photo)

Former Baltimore Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa. (File photo)

Federal prosecutors are seeking a one-year prison sentence for former Baltimore Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa for years of tax fraud.

De Sousa pleaded guilty to three counts of willful failure to file federal income tax returns between 2013 and 2015 and as part of his plea admitted to falsely claiming deductions on state and federal returns for years before that. The combined state and federal taxes De Sousa owed as a result amounted to $67,587.72.

“Ironically, as a BPD officer for that entire period, he was drawing a salary funded by taxpayers in Maryland, as the BPD is a state agency and supported with state revenue, while simultaneously cheating the State of Maryland out of the taxes he owed,” according to a sentencing memorandum filed by prosecutors Friday.

Sentencing is scheduled for March 29 in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

Attorneys for De Sousa argued in their sentencing memorandum, also filed Friday, that he was “deeply remorseful, has already suffered significant consequences as a result of his actions, has made full restitution to the Government and to the State of Maryland, and has made and continues to make significant contributions to his community.”

De Sousa’s attorneys say the judge should depart from sentencing guidelines, which recommend a sentence of 10 to 16 months, claiming white-collar-crime sentences have been subject to “upward creep” in recent years, in part due to the use of economic loss as a significant factor in sentencing. De Sousa has fully repaid the taxes he owed.

The defense is seeking either probation or home confinement as an alternative to incarceration.

The government argues the judge needs to send a message of deterrence to other members of the department because investigators learned that De Sousa’s conduct was not isolated.

“It is our understanding that the practice of taking these fraudulent deductions was information that was shared among officers at BPD,” the memo claims, citing similar fraud by former Gun Trace Task Force officer Jemell Rayam.

De Sousa’s sentencing memo admits he received advice from co-workers and at least two tax preparers beginning in the late 1990s about how to save money.

“He made the wrong and irresponsible decision to blindly follow this corrupt advice without making an effort to truly understand what these claims meant. Mr. DeSousa simply claimed the exemptions and deductions he was advised and encouraged to claim without
scrutinizing or even fully understanding them,” the memo states.

De Sousa issued a statement the day he was charged last year, in which he admitted to not filing his federal and state taxes during the years alleged by the government. He said he had “failed to sufficiently prioritize (his) personal affairs” and was working to resolve his tax issues.

But prosecutors say De Sousa had “actively manipulated his taxes for a decade,” not merely neglected his finances.

“The Defendant did not make a mistake or simply fail to take an action required of all citizens,” the memo states. “He deliberately took steps to defraud the State of Maryland and the federal government. This is also a serious offense because tax fraud is, at its heart, theft. The victims are the honest taxpayers who work every day, abide by the rules, and pay their fair share as the law requires.”

De Sousa called the fraudulent exemptions and deductions the result of “being weak willed, and willfully blind” to the advice given to him by “unqualified and unscrupulous tax preparers and other advisors.”

The memo stated that Baltimore’s confidence in the police department had been undermined by De Sousa’s conduct; it also noted that the department was without a commissioner for 10 months.

“The Defendant will undoubtedly highlight the good work he has done for the BPD over his career but the negative collateral consequences of his crimes on the Department at this critical time must also be considered,” the memo concludes.

In the defense sentencing memorandum, attorneys mention the time De Sousa devoted to “community policing” and his focus on engaging with citizens. De Sousa received the bronze star in his second year with the police department for assisting in a rescue from a burning building.

During his “new-found free time in retirement” after he was charged, De Sousa increased his volunteer work, according to the memo, working with nonprofits and schools.

The case is United States v. Darryl De Sousa, 1:18-cr-00276.

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