Daniel Hersl and Marcus Taylor worked for the city’s elite Gun Trace Task Force, whose members stole cash and resold looted narcotics. Other officers had pleaded guilty.
BALTIMORE — Two Baltimore police detectives were convicted of robbery, racketeering and conspiracy Monday in a trial that is part of a federal investigation into corruption among rogue members of the city’s police force.
The detectives, Daniel Hersl and Marcus Taylor, were shackled and led out of Federal District Court after the verdicts were read. Some of Mr. Hersl’s relatives burst into tears, while one of his victims called out: “Justice.”
The two detectives were each convicted of racketeering conspiracy, racketeering and robbery under the federal Hobbs Act, which prohibits interference with interstate commerce. They face up to 20 years in prison on each count, for a total of 60 years.
The acting United States attorney for the District of Maryland, Stephen Schenning, said he hoped the police corruption case would “begin a long difficult process of examining how” the Baltimore force polices its own.
“We hope that police officers live up to the honor and privilege of the badge,” Mr. Schenning said.
The trial was dominated by four former detectives who testified that the Police Department’s elite Gun Trace Task Force was made up of thugs with badges who stole cash, resold looted narcotics and lied under oath to cover their tracks. They detailed acts of police criminality including armed home invasions stretching back to 2008.
The acting police commissioner, Darryl DeSousa, said in a statement immediately after the verdict that the department would move to fire Mr. Hersl and Mr. Taylor, who have been suspended without pay since being indicted and arrested in March.
“We recognize that this indictment and subsequent trial uncovered some of the most egregious and despicable acts ever perpetrated in law enforcement,” Commissioner DeSousa said.
William Purpura, Mr. Hersl’s lead lawyer, said that the Hersl family was disappointed in the verdict but noted that the jury “did acquit him of one of the more serious crimes.” He said a decision about a possible appeal would be made later.
Both men were cleared of possessing a firearm in pursuance of a violent crime.
Mr. Taylor’s defense team and his relatives did not immediately speak to reporters after the verdict.
Much of the testimony during the trial focused on Gun Trace Task Force members who had pleaded guilty, including the unit’s onetime supervisor, Sgt. Wayne Jenkins. He was portrayed as leading his unit on a tireless quest to shake down civilians and find “monsters” — big-time drug dealers with lots of loot to steal.
His subordinates testified that officers were told to carry BB guns in case they ever needed to plant weapons and that they occasionally posed as federal agents when shaking down targets.
Former colleagues said Mr. Jenkins’s sledgehammer approach to policing extended to having actual sledgehammers — along with crowbars, grappling hooks, black masks and even a machete — stored in his police-issued car to ramp up illegal activities. The task force has been disbanded.
It is not clear when Mr. Jenkins and the other former detectives who pleaded guilty will be sentenced by a federal judge. Four ex-officers testified for the government in hopes of shaving years off their sentences.
The defense teams for Mr. Hersl and Mr. Taylor had asked jurors to doubt the motivations of the government’s witnesses, including a number of convicted drug dealers who received immunity for their testimony.
Mr. Schenning said he was thankful the jurors saw through that.
“That was the business model for this organization: They thought if you rob drug dealers they have no place to go,” he said.
Mr. Purpura did not deny that his client took money but said the thefts did not rise to the more serious charges of robbery or extortion. The two defense teams also attacked the truthfulness of the four disgraced detectives, noting that they had admitted to lying for years to juries, judges, colleagues and their families.
Assistant United States Attorney Leo Wise reminded jurors that the central question in the trial involved the actions of the rogue police unit and that whether some of its robbery victims made money “selling drugs or Girl Scout cookies” was irrelevant.
Public defenders say there could be a few thousand tainted cases stretching back to 2008 involving the jailed members of the Gun Trace Task Force. So far, roughly 125 cases involving the eight indicted Baltimore police officers have been dropped.
“Beyond the sheer credibility issues that should have been raised at the time, given how embedded their crimes were in their police work, all cases involving these officers are tainted,” said Debbie Katz Levi, head of special litigation for Baltimore’s Office of the Public Defender.