Liberty Planet Weblog

Police officer found guilty of gun theft, misconduct…steals and sells guns.

Posted on: January 27, 2013

Prince George’s police officer Juan Carter was found guilty by a circuit court jury Tuesday of selling and distributing the guns he seized while on a state-run task force created to take illegal weapons off the streets in Prince George’s County from 2008 to 2009.

Carter, 38, was convicted on all counts – three for misconduct in office and four for theft – and is facing at least 60 years in prison, prosecutors said.

The 15-year veteran was arrested in November 2010 but was released on bond until the jury reached a verdict and his bond was revoked. Prince George’s Police Chief Mark Magaw said Carter remains suspended without pay and will be fired as police officials are “moving rapidly to separate him from the police department” as the next step of the administrative process.

Carter, of Bowie, had been in a supervising position on the Firearms Interdiction Task Force and went through a 13-month period without turning in a single firearm or filling out paperwork, prosecutors said. They said Carter instead sold them and distributed them to friends and relatives.

John Erzen, a spokesman for the county state’s attorney’s office, said authorities have tied 29 guns to Carter, 12 of which were recovered while 17 have yet to be found.

Carter was previously tried for the same offenses in 2012 but the trial resulted in a hung jury when jurors could not reach a collective verdict. Jury deliberations for the re-trial lasted just two hours before Carter was found guilty on all counts.

An investigation into Carter’s actions began when a supposedly seized gun was used to commit a shooting in 2009. The shooting stemmed from an attempted carjacking of an off-duty police officer, and a suspect shot a finger off of the officer.

During the trial, prosecutors used convicted drug and gun dealers as witnesses who claimed to have purchased guns through a line of associates that linked Carter to the dealings.

“The opportunity he saw to take advantage corrupted him absolutely,” said state prosecutor Jonathon Church.

The state also had law enforcement officers from the task force testify. Each said that Carter was the seizing officer in charge of turning over weapons and failed to do so.

Defense attorney Doug Wood said the distribution of firearms on the street could have been done by another officer in the task force and that the organization’s record-keeping was poor.

“The investigation into seized guns should have started earlier … Somebody had to pay. Somebody had to be the fall guy and that’s Juan Carter.”

Prince George’s State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said this was a case that will earn the public’s trust in the criminal justice system and police department, which she said cooperated in the investigation.

“This case came back with a resounding verdict in less than two hours,” said Alsobrooks. “We really value public’s trust. We can’t do our jobs without it. It’s my great hope that citizens will see this result and trust not only law enforcement officials and police but trust the system and its process.”

Carter will be sentenced on March 25.

Source: Gazette

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