Baltimore Police Officers Indicted in Towing Scheme

… Officers, garage owners implicated in corruption …

By Peter Hermann, The Baltimore Sun

1:41 PM EST, March 10, 2011

A federal grand jury has indicted 10 Baltimore police officers and two repair shop workers as part of a corruption probe in which police are charged with steering motorists with broken cars to a garage in Rosedale in exchange for kickbacks.

The Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office announced the indictments on Thursday, another step in a case that has ensnared 31 city officers and led to renewed scrutiny of the city’s towing practices.

Only 10 officers who were charged last month are named in the indictment. Seven others named in the scheme remain charged in the criminal complaint. They could be indicted later, but not taking their cases before a grand jury is typically a signal that they are cooperating with investigators.

An additional 14 city officers remain on suspended duties — implicated in the scheme but not facing criminal charges.

Named in the indictment is the owner of Majestic Towing, Hernan Alexis Moreno Mejia, 30, and his employee and brother, Edwin Javier Mejia, 27, of Middle River. The 10 officers indicted were identified as Eddy Arias, 39, Rodney Cintron, 31, Jhonn S. Corona, 32, Michael Lee Cross, 28, Jerry Edward Diggs Jr., 24, Rafael Concepcion Feliciano Jr., 30, Samuel Ocasio, 35, Leonael Rodriguez Torres, 31, Marcos Fernando Urena, 33, and Henry Yambo, 28.

The FBI and federal prosecutors last month outlined a broad scheme in which they alleged the officers got $300 for each damaged car they steered to Majestic, which promised motorists to pay their insurance deductibles and towing and handle claims.

Baltimore police are required to call a dispatcher when a motorist needs a tow and the city sends one of the towing companies under contract. The officers are charged with bypassing that system and pocketing money for giving Majestic a share of a lucrative business.

Each defendant was indicted on charges of conspiracy.

Copyright © 2011, The Baltimore Sun

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