Cop Out
In Rousting Officer Jacqueline Folio, The
Baltimore Police Department Has Raised
Questions About its Own Internal Affairs
At 6:08 p.m. on Thursday, March 27, 2003,
an anonymous tipster calls Baltimore City 911
and describes a black man wearing a blue
baseball cap, a white shirt, and blue jeans,
dealing drugs at the corner of Pratt Street and
Ellwood Avenue in East Baltimore. The stash,
the caller says, is in a brown paper bag in
some bushes next to a corner house there.
Three minutes later, 41-year-old Baltimore City
Police patrol officer Jacqueline Folio is the first
to respond to the scene, where Patterson Park
butts up to Highlandtown Middle School.

A 14-year veteran with two stints as a police
academy instructor under her belt, Folio
makes fleeting eye contact with a young man
who fits the description, as he walks away from
the area with two friends. Folio radios in the
suspect’s location and proceeds to recover a
brown paper bag from under the bushes. It
contains money and suspected cocaine in
baggies. A block away, on the opposite side of
the school, other officers collar the suspect, 18-
year-old Leon Burgess. A half-hour after the
phone call, Burgess is on his way to Central
Booking. Folio completes the paperwork,
charging Burgess with possession with intent
to distribute cocaine, then submits the
evidence to headquarters at 9 p.m.

By all appearances, it’s a routine drug arrest,
done with speed and efficiency, wrapped up
neatly and ready for the courts in a matter of
hours. But by midnight, it’s Folio, not Burgess,
who’s in hot water. Two years later, she still is,
because the whole incident was a setup, a
police integrity sting designed and conducted
by the BPD’s Internal Affairs Division to see if a
cop fails to turn in abandoned drugs and
money.
By Van Smith - Baltimore City Paper
"The Internal Affairs detectives’ sting also
created a victim: Leon Burgess, who was
falsely stopped, detained, and arrested as a
direct result of the actions of the
detectives, who did nothing to stop it. They
were the only people on the scene other
than Burgess and his friends who knew he
was innocent, and the Internal Affairs
detectives simply watched the arrest,
recording it on tape. What’s more, the tape
reveals that the detectives knew that they
were watching trouble unfolding at the
time."
© 2006 Baltimore City Paper
Suddenly, the department reversed course.
On March 18, the department sent a letter to
Ahlers stating that “Folio is under no direct
order . . . to retire. In fact, as of this date she is
still a member” of the force—despite the fact
that Folio had signed retirement papers, as
previously directed by the department, the day
before.

On March 22, Hamm issued another letter,
stating that his March 11 letter ordering Folio
out of her job was signed and sent “in error”
and that her “job has not been abolished and I
am not authorizing a retirement.” As of press
time, Folio’s status as a Baltimore City police
officer remains in limbo, and she and her
lawyer are outraged and baffled. Once you
hear her side of this story, it’s not hard to
imagine why.

Directly after signing her retirement papers on
March 17, Folio and Ahlers arrived at City
Paper’s offices to talk. It was the first time Folio
had spoken to the press about the matter. Now
that she was no longer a member of the force
(or so she believed), she was finally free to talk.

“The cost of this case was devastating to me,”
Folio lamented in a clear, even-toned
Baltimore accent. Physically, she’s obviously
strong—an attribute that explains her police
academy stints, teaching defensive tactics and
physical fitness. And like most cops, she’s
practiced at masking her emotions when
speaking. But her words themselves, more
than her demeanor, gave away the depth of
her feelings. “I live in the city, I’ve been a
lifelong city resident, and I truly believe in the
city. That’s why I’ve been here so long and had
complete faith in the police department.

“I guess what hurts me most,” she continued,
“is who really suffered here is the citizens of
Baltimore—not having me on the street
protecting their communities. And if you talk to
anyone in the communities that I patrolled,
they miss me. To me, that’s who I ultimately
work for. And I like to know that when they saw
me, for eight hours they at least felt safe at
some point. That’s what meant the most to me,
that I’m not going to be able to do that
anymore.”

The police department has nothing to say
about the Folio affair because, BPD
spokesman Matt Jablow says, it expects to be
sued.

In fact, Ahlers has so notified the department—
not formally, but by implication. On March 22—
the same day Hamm rescinded his order for
Folio to retire—Ahlers sent a six-page letter to
the department that, in closing, reviewed Folio’
s “rights” in regards to her experience with the
department’s internal-affairs bureaucracy.
Among them were the rights to “take civil
action” in the courts, to “request federal
criminal and civil investigation of misconduct by
her accusers,” and “to take effective public,
political action through the mass media.”
Ahlers dangled the prospect of negotiating a
financial settlement, but pointed out that “Ms.
Folio’s legal obligation to cooperate in any
federal criminal investigation” was not
negotiable. Reading between the lines, Ahlers
was putting the department on the alert that
Folio can give as good as she gets.

The banner reads HIGHLANDTOWN ‘DRUG-
FREE’ MIDDLE SCHOOL. It hangs over a
public school, next to a public park, as an early
spring day turns to dusk, right when students
and working people who live in the area are
likely to be enjoying some free time outdoors.
This is where and when Internal Affairs chose
to place a fake drug stash under bushes next
to a public sidewalk—where any youngster
might pick up the bag, where any random
person passing through might be swept up in
the sting and arrested—as a ploy to tempt a
cop to steal abandoned contraband.

As Folio experienced it, the “random integrity
test”—Internal Affairs’ term for the operation—
presented anomalies that raised eyebrows
even as it unfolded. Folio says she and other
cops who share her beat knew that Pratt and
Ellwood is not a drug corner, so the tip itself
(phoned in by an Internal Affairs detective) was
out of the ordinary. Even Leon Burgess, the
man Folio arrested, said as much during a
police interrogation: “It’s not even a drug area
that they was riding in. I have never even seen
. . . drug[s] move through there.”

Stranger still was the condition of the
recovered cash: $250 in clean, crisp, new bills,
several of them with sequential serial numbers.
Folio and another responding officer
discussed the unusually fresh bills as soon as
they first examined them, and Burgess, when
he was interrogated by police officials while still
in custody at Central Booking early the next
morning, pointed out that “junkies don’t give
you straight money like that. Junkies’ money’s
sweaty and it’s balled up and all types of stuff.”

The Internal Affairs detectives’ sting also
created a victim: Leon Burgess, who was
falsely stopped, detained, and arrested as a
direct result of the actions of the detectives,
who did nothing to stop it. They were the only
people on the scene other than Burgess and
his friends who knew he was innocent, and the
Internal Affairs detectives simply watched the
arrest, recording it on tape. What’s more, the
tape reveals that the detectives knew that they
were watching trouble unfolding at the time.

Internal Affairs sergeants Terry Ressin and
Robert Morris were sitting in a surveillance
vehicle during the sting, and their video
camera recorded their discussion as Burgess
was accosted by the patrol officers. According
to the transcript (which was provided by Ahlers
to City Paper, along with the rest of Folio’s
records of the case), Ressin remarked, “If they
lock him up, we got problems.”

Morris responded that Folio is “supposed to be
a decent girl. I think she’ll probably just get
numbers for found property and lock him up
for [inaudible], all we can hope that anyway.”

Ressin’s retort: “And if not, we’re all screwed.”

As it turned out, Internal Affairs was not
screwed, but Folio was—with Burgess as
collateral damage. “They know this is illegal,”
Ahlers says of the detectives’ recorded
conversation as they watched Folio arrest
Burgess. “[Internal Affairs] had let a person be
unconstitutionally stopped, detained, and
arrested. He had no business being stopped
because [Internal Affairs] knew, when they
gave the description out [to 911], that it was a
fiction. They know this is illegal,” he argues
emphatically, growing visibly exercised. “Jackie
doesn’t know that. She’s been dispatched to a
felony in progress!”

What’s more, during Folio’s criminal trial it
came to light that this particular test came with
a heightened risk of a false arrest built in.
Under cross-examination, the Internal Affairs
detective who designed the sting, Brian
Winder, admitted that the plan was to have
Resin call 911 with a description “that mirrors
persons in the area and advise . . . that the
person described is dealing drugs” (emphasis
added), almost guaranteeing the prospect of
the false arrest of a passing civilian.

Elsewhere in Winder’s testimony at Folio’s trial,
the detective acknowledged that he designed
the test without a written manual to help him
navigate potential pitfalls—what actions to take
should someone be falsely stopped, detained,
or arrested as a result of the test. (In July
2004, after Winder left Internal Affairs, he was
shot and killed in the line of duty.) Indeed, a
federal class-action discrimination lawsuit
brought against the department in December
2004 by a large group of African-American
officers asserts that “BPD has no written
investigatory standards, policy, or training for
members of [Internal Affairs].”

Folio says she has read a portion of a 1990s
New York Police Department manual for doing
internal-affairs stings, which explains what to
do when faced with an unexpected problem,
such as a false arrest. “It spells out, if it goes
bad, what they need to do to stop it,” Folio
pointed out.

“Suppose, for example,” Ahlers says, picking
up on the theme, “if Officer Folio had pointed a
gun at Burgess, would they then interrupt it? I
mean, at what point were they willing to say,
‘Jeez, now things have deteriorated to the
point that she may use deadly force, maybe
now we ought to admit that the suspect is not
the felon because it’s a fictitious felony.’”

Unprepared for the complications that
arose from the sting gone wrong, BPD began
tossing the problem up the chain of command
like a hot potato. As Internal Affairs sergeants
Ressin and Moore followed the police van that
was transporting Burgess to Central Booking,
Ressin phoned his supervisor, Lt. Ross
Buzzuro. “We gave out a description,” Ressin
explained, according to the surveillance-tape
transcript, “and they, ah, actually stopped
somebody a couple of blocks away, who fit the
description and they locked him up.”
(Emphasis in the original.)

Then Ressin called the lieutenant colonel in
charge of Internal Affairs at the time, George
Mitchell, to brief him on the situation. “They
actually stopped somebody,” he recounted to
Mitchell. “I don’t know yet if they found
something on him while they were checking
him or if they’re going to charge him with our
stash. If it was our stuff,” Ressin added, “then
we got problems.” Then, to an inaudible
comment made by Mitchell, he responded,
“Yeah, that’s what I’m hoping, but if not then we’
ll do what we have to do.”

What had to be done, subsequent events
make clear, was to stick the whole mess on
Folio, based on her statement of charges
against Burgess, which was completed by 8:30
p.m. At 10:30 p.m. on March 27, 2003, the
evening of the arrest, the department’s then-
chief of special projects, Sean Malone, was
first contacted about the incident. Twenty
minutes later, Mitchell briefed one of his
Internal Affairs lieutenants, and sent another to
the Southeastern District station house to
await shift change, when Folio would be
present. At 11:45 p.m., Folio arrived for shift
change, and was immediately summoned to
her shift commander’s office. By midnight, the
Southeastern District commander, Maj. John
Long, was advised by Mitchell of Folio’s
“impropriety” in writing up an allegedly false
report. Minutes later, two Internal Affairs
detectives escorted Folio to the Internal Affairs
offices to read her her Law Enforcement
Officers Bill of Rights rights. Her police powers
were suspended immediately, and she was
assigned to work at the Baltimore City Juvenile
Detention Center.

Burgess, meanwhile, was locked up at Central
Booking, where the booking process was
completed by about 8:15 p.m. At 12:45 a.m. on
March 28—just as Folio, at Internal Affairs, was
being read her Law Enforcement Officers Bill
of Rights rights for having wrongfully arrested
him, an innocent man—Burgess was taken out
of a group cell at Central Booking and put in a
room to be interrogated by Malone, Internal
Affairs Lt. Joseph Smith, and Internal Affairs
Det. Anthony Vaeth. The interview lasted for
35 minutes. Afterward, Burgess was returned
to the cell and remained locked up until 2:45 a.
m., when he was finally released and given a
lift to his East Baltimore home by Malone,
Smith, and Vaeth.

It’s clear from the transcript of that interview
that Burgess believed he was officially under
arrest when Malone, Smith, and Vaeth
interrogated him. Smith even re-read him his
Miranda rights on the record, an act that
further veiled the fact that the police knew he
was innocent, had been wrongfully arrested,
and was now being wrongfully held and
interrogated. It was then more than six hours
after his false arrest, and no one had told him
he was free to leave.

Ahlers, during the interview at City Paper
right after Folio’s March 17 retirement, says he
was particularly shocked at Malone’s conduct
in handling Burgess: “His first concern, when
he arrived at Central Booking that night,
should have been to release Burgess. What
he does instead is he scams Burgess by
bringing him into a room and giving him
Miranda. He knows, if he’s got an ounce of
sense, that Internal Affairs has done
something grossly unconstitutional here, and
illegal, and that the city has liability. And so he
takes what they’ve done, and he looks at
Jackie Folio’s statement of charges, and he
says, ‘Here’s the out. This ambiguous
sentence here, we’ll put it on the officer.’

“The proof of that is that they never even call
Jackie Folio to figure out the ambiguity. They
never even asked her, ‘Is this accurate?’ She’s
passed the test they designed. She’s turned in
all the drugs, all the money. She has no history
of ever getting a complaint. In fact, on the
[Internal Affairs] tape one of them says she’s
supposed to be a good officer.”

In fact, according to the case record, as the
Burgess interrogation was winding down that
night, the decision to criminally indict Folio had
already been made. At 1:15 in the morning, Lt.
Col. Mitchell of Internal Affairs notified Thomas
Krehely, the assistant state’s attorney who
handles police corruption cases; in turn,
Krehely advised Mitchell to “gather info,
interview people, and meet week of April 1,
2003 for an indictment.” Folio didn’t know her
fate was sealed already. On June 6, 2003,
when she waived her Law Enforcement
Officers Bill of Rights rights and gave a
voluntary statement, it was because she
thought she could avoid indictment.

The morning after the sting, the press
coverage began. “The Sunpapers breaks the
story,” Ahlers recalls, “that Jackie Folio has
committed a crime. That she put drugs on an
innocent suspect. And if you compare the
stories in the Sunpapers—there are two
stories two days in a row—if you compare that,
it’s verbatim [from] the Leon Burgess
interrogation. Now, who would have leaked
that? Well, the department runs this ridiculous
theory by me—Leon Burgess called the
reporter. The idea that he knows which
reporter he should talk to at the Sunpapers to
generate an article of interest, and that this
was an [Internal Affairs] undercover
operation—a fact that was not known to him—
is absolutely absurd.”

Folio learned only earlier this year, in
preparation for the trial board, that Burgess
was interrogated by Malone the night of the
sting—a fact that brings up another gripe from
Ahlers about how the case was conducted.
After the administrative charges were filed and
the hearing approached, both sides shared
information in a legal process called
“discovery,” just as they had before the
criminal trial. This time, though, Folio and
Ahlers received evidence from the police
department that hadn’t been provided to them,
as required, during the earlier criminal
proceedings. Some of the late-arriving
evidence was proving helpful in preparing a
strong defense for the trial board, but it also
would have helped strengthen Folio’s
successful defense before Judge Stewart.

“The transcript [of the Burgess interrogation]
was one of the documents that was not
produced by the police [before] the criminal
trial,” Ahlers stresses. “And the person who
makes the decision about what information the
police department gives to the state’s
attorneys office, who must provide it to the
defense, is the chief of legal, Sean Malone. So
he intentionally did not disclose that.”

Actually, Malone at that time was not chief of
legal—a position department spokesman Matt
Jablow says Malone had left in 2002—so the
difficulties Ahlers had during the discovery
process may not have been Malone’s fault. At
the time, Jablow explains, Malone was chief of
special projects, a job with vague and wide-
ranging duties that even Jablow couldn’t
summarize. And yet Malone was closely
involved with the Folio case; when Ahlers
phoned the department to speak to the chief of
legal about Folio’s case, he says he found
himself talking to Malone, who, Ahlers says,
represented himself as chief of legal.

Malone, now the city’s labor commissioner, did
not respond to phone calls or a letter hand-
delivered and faxed to his office requesting
comment for this story.

Clarke Ahlers has been a lawyer since
1986, but before that he had been with the
Howard County Police Department since
1972—initially as a 17-year-old cadet, later as
an officer. That helps explain why he was so
taken aback when he first spoke with Sean
Malone on the phone about the Folio case.

Ahlers says the conversation took place right
after Folio had hired him. (Herbert Weiner, an
attorney for the Fraternal Order of Police
union, represented Folio when she was
suspended, right after the incident, but Folio
hired Ahlers shortly thereafter.) Having learned
the details of Folio’s case, Ahlers decided the
best course of action was to tell her side of the
story to the department, which might decide
that charges weren’t warranted. So he
contacted the department’s legal affairs
division, asked to talk to its chief, and ended
up talking to Sean Malone.

“In my mind I’m picturing a 30-year salty
veteran,” Ahlers recalls, “somebody who is a
former police officer-turned-lawyer, been
around the block, and knows everything there
is to know.” In fact, at the time, Malone was 36.
When he’d been selected as the BPD’s top
attorney in 2000, he’d been a lawyer for 18
months. But he was a close friend and adviser
of Mayor Martin O’Malley’s, having managed
his election campaigns and been a bartender
at McGinn’s (now Mick O’Shea’s) where O’
Malley’s Irish rock band often played. Malone’s
previous law-enforcement career before
becoming BPD’s top legal authority consisted
of an approximately six-month stint as a
prosecutor in Baltimore County.

Ahlers says he began his initial telephone
conversation with Malone by offering to give
Folio’s side of the story in hopes of preventing
criminal charges. He says Malone cut him off
and insisted, in no uncertain terms, that Folio
was at fault in wrongfully arresting Burgess,
end of story. Ahlers says he countered that his
client believed she was making a legitimate
arrest thanks to the bogus anonymous tip
describing a suspect; Ahlers says he was then
shocked to hear the police department’s
ostensible top legal expert counter that
stopping a citizen under such pretenses was
unconstitutional, when in fact, Ahlers points
out, it is quite constitutional and standard
police practice. Regardless, Ahlers says,
Malone was apparently unmoved by the
argument and cut the conversation short.

It all adds up, in Ahlers’ mind, to a Malone-
inspired attempt to hide Internal Affairs
misdeeds. Malone, Ahlers allows, “could fairly
evaluate the case and say Jackie Folio did
something wrong. Reasonable minds can
disagree. And I respect if that’s his belief. And
he has a job to do. What I didn’t understand,
until recently, was he was engaged all along in
protecting [Internal Affairs] from their
misconduct. Reasonable minds can’t agree
about that. That’s not his job.”

Folio was caught up in a “random integrity
test,” ostensibly designed to create a situation
that any cop in the vicinity could end up
responding to, but she says she wonders how
random her test actually was. About a month
prior to the Burgess incident, Folio says, she
responded as a backup to a very similar (and
fruitless) call for drug activity a block from her
Southeastern District post. And, she says, her
girlfriend, Officer Lisa Olszewski, believes she
was the target of a similar test set up two
weeks after the Burgess sting. Since Internal
Affairs won’t tell officers when or whether they’
ve been tested, or if they passed, there’s no
way to know for sure if the incidents were, in
fact, Internal Affairs integrity tests.

Folio isn’t the only one with questions about
the fairness and effectiveness of the methods
the BPD uses to police its officers. A group of
African-American officers filed a discrimination
lawsuit last December against the city and the
police department alleging that the department
selectively uses disciplinary procedures to
discriminate against certain types of officers.
The lawsuit’s charges, which go all the way
back to 1992, include allegations that Malone,
as chief of legal from 2000 to 2002,
discriminated by initiating investigations of
officers, deciding which charges would be
brought or dismissed, and influencing the
outcomes of charges against them, including in
trial-board matters.

The city’s response to the discrimination
lawsuit casts off the allegations as an “attempt
to undermine the disciplinary procedures” of
the department, and claims that Malone enjoys
“absolute immunity for any claim arising from
their conduct in initiating and prosecuting
disciplinary charges.”

Of course, problems with the department’s self-
policing pre-date Malone. A 1996 study by the
Baltimore City Community Relations
Commission determined that 75 percent of
terminated officers were black, even though
black officers made up less than half the force.
The study also found that 90 percent of black
officers who went to department trial board
were found guilty, while only 60 percent of
white officers called before trial board met the
same fate.

The commission’s report prompted a probe by
the City Council’s Legislative Investigations
Committee, headed at that time by then-
Councilman Martin O’Malley. At its conclusion
in 1998, O’Malley’s committee issued another
report that confirmed widespread disparities in
the disciplinary treatment of black and white
officers, concluding that the most shameful
aspect of the findings was “our failure to root
out these problems when they are brought to
our attention.”

Steve Kearney, the mayor’s director of policy
and communications, says the police
department under the O’Malley administration
in 2000 started the integrity test program—the
very one that netted Folio—as “a direct
outcome” of the 1998 report, and that, in
addition, the selection of trial board members
has become random and less politicized than
in the past. Department spokesman Jablow
says that the IAD has conducted 460 integrity
tests since 2000 and that four officers have
failed them. He would not name the officers
who failed; presumably, Jackie Folio is one of
them.

“I’ve never seen stuff like this,” says a 30-
plus-year BPD veteran who spent more than a
decade doing internal investigations. He asked
not to be named out of fear of retribution
before his pending retirement. “It’s really
gotten out of control, with the state’s attorney
working as an instrument of [Internal Affairs],
taking weak cases like Folio’s, indicting, and
losing,” the BPD veteran says. “It’s done to
harass, embarrass, and coerce [people] into
resigning. But I’ve never, ever seen them do
what they’re doing to Jackie—abolish some
police officer’s position just to avoid letting
them have a trial board. It’s profoundly
befuddling.”

The “nucleus” of these problems, the veteran
agrees, “is Malone, but he’s the mayor’s guy,
so nobody steps up and objects.”

The way to make good police-corruption
cases, he advises, is to “do them targeted,
based on good intelligence—so-and-so’s dirty,
so target him and find out. Maybe it takes
three, four weeks to set up a targeted, but you
end up with good, strong cases—and there
are good cases out there to be made.

“But the mayor likes randoms, because it
represents numbers,” the veteran continues.
“With large numbers of randoms—which take a
few days to set up—you can rack up the
numbers and say you’re working hard to clean
up the department, even though all you’re
really doing is taking resources away from
targeted cases. With randoms, more times
than not, you end up with nothing.”

Former BPD sergeant Andre Street, a 25-year
veteran who retired in 1995, remembers how
random tests in the past had to be designed
for total control of the environment. For
example, Internal Affairs detectives might have
planted a couple of joints in plain view on the
floorboards of a patrol car: “They’d watch, do
[the officers] follow procedures? Do they keep
it, whether for personal use or as drop items to
pin charges on a suspect? It was controlled
because it didn’t put citizens at risk. Whatever
you do you should do without involving the
public. You have to plan for every contingency
and be prepared to pull the plug at any time
and say, ‘The gig’s up.’”

Ahlers, too, has a few ideas about how better
to go about catching corrupt police. “Almost
every study ever done about police
corruption,” he asserts, “says that you look at
the vice and narcotics units, not patrol. If you’
re trying to find out if police officers get free
coffee at 7-Eleven, yeah, maybe patrol officers
are involved in that. But if you are looking for
who is protecting organizations of criminals,
you have to look at units that go after
organized crime. At that level, what the criminal
wants to know is, can they pay somebody for
information or can they pay somebody for
protection, and that’s really not going to
happen at the uniformed officer patrol level.

“There are a lot of ways they could do this.
Instead, they end up doing Jackie Folio and
trying to cover up their own culpability.”

In the Folio case, a poorly planned and
executed random sting netted a police officer
allegedly lying in charging documents and
inadvertently raised questions that cut right to
the heart of how police are policed in this town.
But what happened to Burgess, the falsely
arrested suspect? His post-sting story
suggests even more problems.

On April 15, 2003, about two weeks after the
Folio sting, Burgess allegedly sold drugs to an
undercover officer on the 3700 block of East
Pratt Street and was charged with conspiracy
theft. On July 24 of that year, the state’s
attorney declined to prosecute the charges.
On May 1, 2003, Burgess earned assault and
deadly-weapon charges thanks to his alleged
connection with a large, drug-related fracas in
the 3600 block of Eastern Avenue, but the
state’s attorney declined to prosecute those
charges, either. On Aug. 28, 2003, Burgess
was charged with indecent exposure when he
allegedly tried to force his way—while openly
masturbating—into a woman’s home on the
2000 block of East Baltimore Street as she
tried to stop him. The state’s attorney declined
to take those charges to court, as well. On Oct.
29, 2003, Burgess was stopped on Conkling
Street in Highlandtown after police say they
observed him throw suspected drugs to the
ground, and then, after searching him, found
more drugs. The possession charge against
him resulting from the incident was not
pursued by the state’s attorney’s office.
Burgess accrued all of these charges prior to
his giving testimony at the December 2003
criminal trial of Jackie Folio.

Burgess’ attorney, William Buie, tells City
Paper he advises his client, who is currently
locked up and awaiting trial on several violent
charges, including rape, not to talk to the
paper while the current charges are pending.
Assistant State’s Attorney Thomas Krehely had
not returned calls by press time requesting an
interview regarding the past charges against
Burgess, or any deal police and prosecutors
may have struck with him.

Burgess seems to have enjoyed extraordinary
luck in avoiding any recriminations for a time,
but police and prosecutors have managed to
force Folio to retire, even when they failed to
prove she was criminally culpable for pinning
false charges on Burgess. And now, with
Commissioner Hamm having retracted his
order forcing her to retire, it is possible Folio
may be asked to return to duty and then fired
by the department if she fails to comply.

On April 4, department spokesman Jablow told
City Paper that, in fact, Folio’s trial board
hearing had been rescheduled for later this
month—and trial boards are only held in
matters involving police officers, not retired
police officers. Moreover, as this story was
going to press on April 5, the spokesman
issued a written statement denying that Folio’s
being made the patsy for the department’s
failures.

“Agent Folio’s allegations of a conspiracy are
entirely untrue,” BPD’s statement reads. “The
truth is that she has been charged
administratively with making a false statement—
a statement that resulted in an innocent man
being arrested. The citizens of Baltimore
demand and deserve better. In light of these
charges, an internal hearing board will soon be
convened to determine if Agent Folio violated
police department policy.”

Folio laughs when told over the phone about
the rescheduled hearing—BPD told the press
about it before notifying her. “Isn’t that lovely?”
she jokes. Then the laughter stops, and her
voice turns serious and sad.

“I feel like I’m in an abusive domestic
relationship,” she says. “I never thought I’d be
going out like this.”
Reprinted with permission - © 2006 Baltimore City
Paper
Folio properly submitted the contraband, but in
her sworn statement charging Burgess with the
crime, she seemed to state that she’d seen
Burgess place the bag in the bushes. “Prior to
the call being received by Agent Folio, the
officer was patrolling that particular area and
observed three B/M’s at the intersection of E.
Pratt St. and S. Ellwood Ave.,” Folio wrote in
her statement of probable cause to charge
Burgess. “Agent Folio observed one of the B/M’
s described as wearing a dark colored
baseball cap, white T-shirt, and jean shorts
place an object onto the ground behind a bush
located against the NW wall of that corner.
This individual is further identified as the def.
Burgess.”

On March 28, 2003, Folio learned she was in
trouble, and was immediately suspended.
Although she had no obligation to do so, she
wanted to give a statement about the incident
because she believed she could convince
investigators—or even a grand jury, if it came
to that—that she was innocent. She got that
opportunity on June 6, 2003, when she waived
her rights under the Law Enforcement Officers
Bill of Rights and provided a voluntary
statement to Internal Affairs. The department
wasn’t convinced; a week later, on June 12,
the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office
indicted her criminally for perjury and
misconduct, saying she’d purposefully lied
under oath in order to maliciously pin false
charges on Burgess.

The Folio indictment appeared to confirm a
bad-cop stereotype—the aggressive enforcer
who works poor, black neighborhoods and
already has a good idea who’s guilty and who’s
not, making it easy to pin false charges on a
passer-by and rationalize it as removing
trouble from the street before it actually
happens. It’s offensive, it’s unconstitutional, it’s
criminal, and it’s happened before. And Folio’s
sworn statement of charges is what it is: Her
statement reads that she saw Burgess “place”
the stash behind the bush. In order to convict
her, the state’s attorney was going to have to
prove criminal intent—that Folio did it on
purpose.  In December 2003, Folio was
acquitted of the criminal charges by Baltimore
City Circuit Court Judge Lynn Stewart, who
didn’t explain her verdict but apparently bought
Folio’s apologetic explanation. Folio testified
that the allegedly false statement in Burgess’
charging documents was not intentional and
malicious, as the prosecution argued, but the
result of vagueness due to a run-on sentence.

“I know what happened that day was clearly in
good faith on my part,” Folio said on the stand.
“When I say ‘observed’ in my probable cause
statement, I was trying to say that I observed
the individual who was described by the caller.
And when I use the word ‘describe,’ that was
based upon the information I received from the
caller—that this person, in fact, did fit the
description that was given out.”

At the criminal trial, Folio’s long record of
complaint-free service, her stints as an
academy instructor (she estimates that 90
percent of the current force trained under her),
and a stack of letters praising her character
and professionalism all served to paint a
picture of an officer beyond reproach. But the
question of her guilt or innocence apparently
remained open from the department’s point of
view. Though Folio was found innocent of any
criminal charges, nearly a year later, on or
about Dec. 14, 2004, BPD decided to take its
own crack at her, charging her administratively
for her statement in the Burgess arrest papers.
Folio could have volunteered to take a
polygraph test in an effort to clear her name,
but her attorney, Clarke Ahlers, says she
never did because the tests are known to be
“unreliable”—especially when used to gauge a
person’s intent, which was the issue in her
case. Nonetheless, “the police department,”
Ahlers stresses, “had the right to order her to
take one, and they never did.”
Folio’s administrative case would be heard by
a police trial board, with three members of the
department weighing each side’s arguments
before deciding Folio’s professional fate. But
the trial board didn’t happen. On March 11,
2005, one business day before the scheduled
March 14 hearing, Police Commissioner
Leonard Hamm signed a letter immediately
ordering that Folio be “removed from her
regular permanent position as a Baltimore
Police Officer, without fault upon her part.”

Hamm’s move indefinitely postponed the trail-
board hearing and forced Folio to retire, which
she did officially on March 17. The next day, in
order for Folio to be eligible for city health
insurance, she and her roommate, Lisa
Olszewski, also a city police officer, filed
publicly as domestic partners—a decision that
was not made lightly, since it officially outted
them as a lesbian couple.
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Cops Stinging
Cops
In my book, and all over this site, I talk about
integrity, reasonableness, accuracy and how
important it is to develop systems and follow
rules.  As a police officer, you have a
tremendous responsibility to maintain the
highest level of integrity, and the ability to
reason and articulate facts while following rules
and...laws.

Unfortunately, most Americans, including
police officers, don't have a true appreciation
of freedom, and the realization of how fragile
and tenuous freedom can be.  As a police
officer, you're going to have enormous powers
over others.  Only second to justifiably taking
the life of another person is the power to
deprive a person of his or her freedom.

During your career, you'll routinely deprive
many people of their freedom based on
reasonable and articulable evaluation of
evidence and circumstances.  In the rare
instance where subsequent investigation, or
emerging facts, reveals you've arrested a
person who is innocent of the crime in
question, you're bound by morality and law to
fall all over yourself to cause the immediate
restoration of that person's freedom.

A police department has the right and duty to
develop systems to monitor, evaluate, and
conduct investigations to ensure the integrity
of its police officers.  As a police officer, you
should reasonably expect your department's
internal investigation process to adhere to the
high standards it demands from you.

Oh, well...nothing's perfect.  One would think
that when it comes to cops stinging cops,
police would be especially careful, competent,
and thorough when exerting their life altering
power over other police officers.  People often
criticize police for giving special treatment to
their own.  While it's certainly true in some
instances, it's by no means a universal
practice.  People are people, and they're
either reasonable and competent or they're
not.  Police officers aren't any different from
anyone else in this respect.

Police officers often criticize the media for
being adversarial toward police. It's true that
the media is generally adversarial.  The
reason should be obvious.  There are a lot of
powerful people, but none of those powerful
people have the breath of power you have.  
Put yourself in their place.  You're a politician,
a judge, a multimillionaire CEO, or any other
kind of powerful and influential person.  How
would you view some 21 year old kid with a
badge, a gun, and handcuffs who could take
away your freedom for any number of
reasons.  Get use to it; it's just the way it is,
because people fear power...as they should.

When it comes to a police department
accusing one of its own of wrongdoing, the
media usually doesn't go beyond reporting
more than the police department's version of
events.  But...every now and then a reporter
digs and strikes gold.  The series of articles
reprinted here provides a rare and detailed
insight into cops stinging cops with everybody
getting stung.
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The series of articles reprinted here
provides a rare and detailed insight into
"cops stinging cops" with everybody getting
stung.
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Copyright © 2017  Barry M. Baker  
CareerPoliceOfficer.com