U.S.: Former city of­fi­cer linked to GTTF leader ad­mits mis­con­duct

De­tec­tive who quit BATF this fall had worked with Jenk­ins in 2013, 2014

Baltimore Sun - - FRONT PAGE - By Justin Fen­ton

A former Bal­ti­more po­lice of­fi­cer has ad­mit­ted to the FBI that he stole money, lied in po­lice re­ports and im­prop­erly used elec­tronic sur­veil­lance de­vices, fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors in Cal­i­for­nia said — wi­den­ing the scope of po­lice mis­con­duct un­earthed by the Gun Trace Task Force scan­dal.

Former De­tec­tive Matthew Ry­ck­man re­signed from the Bu­reau of Al­co­hol, To­bacco, Firearms and Ex­plo­sives in Sacra­mento this fall after ad­mit­ting the mis­con­duct in an in­ter­view with the FBI, ac­cord­ing to a Nov. 16 let­ter sent by the U.S. At­tor­ney’s Of­fice in Cal­i­for­nia to lo­cal de­fense at­tor­neys that was ob­tained by The Bal­ti­more Sun.

Ry­ck­man has not been charged with any crimes in Cal­i­for­nia or Mary­land, and de­clined to com­ment this week.

“Matthew Ry­ck­man is a sub­ject of a se­ri­ous pub­lic cor­rup­tion in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­lated to wrong­do­ing by mem­bers of a mu­nic­i­pal po­lice depart­ment on the East Coast, in­clud­ing the time be­tween 2013 and 2015, while Mr. Ry­ck­man was em­ployed as a po­lice of­fi­cer with that depart­ment,” reads the let­ter signed by Tim­o­thy Del­gado, an as­sis­tant U.S. at­tor­ney based in Sacra­mento.

Ry­ck­man was not part of the city’s cor­rupt Gun Trace Task Force, but worked from 2013 to 2014 in a plain­clothes squad

with Sgt. Wayne Jenk­ins, the even­tual leader of the gun unit. Jenk­ins has ad­mit­ted to a stag­ger­ing ar­ray of crimes, in­clud­ing rob­beries and drug deal­ing, and is serv­ing 25 years in fed­eral prison after plead­ing guilty last year.

In to­tal, eight city of­fi­cers were con­victed of rack­e­teer­ing in the Gun Trace Task Force scan­dal, and au­thor­i­ties have said they are con­tin­u­ing to in­ves­ti­gate. Sev­eral co­op­er­at­ing of­fi­cers tes­ti­fied at trial ear­lier this year that they had stolen money for years be­fore join­ing the unit.

A spokesper­son for the U.S. At­tor­ney’s Of­fice could not be reached for com­ment about what lo­cal au­thor­i­ties were do­ing with the in­for­ma­tion about Ry­ck­man. The Bal­ti­more Po­lice Depart­ment de­clined to com­ment on whether it was aware of the al­le­ga­tions or in­ves­ti­gat­ing them.

A com­mis­sion ap­pointed by lead­ers of the state leg­is­la­ture and Gov. Larry Ho­gan is in­ves­ti­gat­ing the Gun Trace Task Force scan­dal in an at­tempt to un­der­stand the scope and cir­cum­stances that led up to it. Bal­ti­more state Sen. Bill Fer­gu­son, a Demo­crat who spon­sored the leg­is­la­tion, said the new rev­e­la­tion un­der­scores the com­mis­sion’s charge.

“I’d say it con­firms the worst night­mares of this en­tire sit­u­a­tion, … that it was more wide­spread than any­one could dream pos­si­ble,” Fer­gu­son said.

The Mary­land Pub­lic De­fender’s Of­fice in Bal­ti­more said the rev­e­la­tion showed how much more re­mains to be done to get to the bot­tom of the Gun Trace Task Force scan­dal and mis­con­duct in the po­lice depart­ment. Of­fi­cials there say city prose- cu­tors have worked too slowly to over­turn con­vic­tions con­nected to the tainted cases — a “cou­ple hun­dred” of more than 2,000 pos­si­ble cases — and of­fi­cers with trou­bled his­to­ries con­tinue to work the streets.

“Any no­tion that the BPD has fully rid them­selves of wrong­do­ers with the GTTF in­dict­ments is com­plete fic­tion,” said Deb­o­rah Katz Levi, of the Bal­ti­more pub­lic de­fender’s of­fice. “Matthew Ry­ck­man was not in­volved in the GTTF and he has con­fessed to car­ry­ing out the same type of heinous crimes. … As ad­vo­cates for jus­tice, we de­mand sys­temic ac­tion by the other en­ti­ties re­spon­si­ble for po­lice over­sight and ac­count­abil­ity, most no­tably the state’s at­tor­ney, the ju­di­ciary and the leg­is­la­ture.”

After The Sun’s ar­ti­cle was pub­lished on­line, the pub­lic de­fender’s of­fice called for a ju­di­cial task force to undo con­vic­tions in­volv­ing cor­rupt of­fi­cers “at a more ex­pe­di­tious rate,” and for the state leg­is­la­ture and City Coun­cil to re­peal se­crecy sur­round­ing of­fi­cer dis­ci­pline that is pro­vided by the Law En­force­ment Of­fi­cers’ Bill of Rights.

The Bal­ti­more State’s At­tor­ney’s Of­fice de­clined to ad­dress the al­le­ga­tions against Ry­ck­man and the crit­i­cisms of the pub­lic de­fender’s of­fice, say­ing only that they gen­er­ally “un­der­take the ap­pro­pri­ate steps to be­gin to re­view” cases when ac­cu­sa­tions of mis­con­duct are brought to their at­ten­tion. They did not say whether they had been made aware of Ry­ck­man’s ad­mis­sion.

State court records show Ry­ck­man was in­volved as an ar­rest­ing of­fi­cer in more than 300 cases that went to Cir­cuit Court.

In 2010, he was in­ves­ti­gated and cleared of crim­i­nal wrong­do­ing for fa­tally shoot­ing one of his con­fi­den­tial in­for­mants in the back in what was de­scribed as a shootout with some­one the of­fi­cers in­tended to ar­rest.

Fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors have re­opened two cases in­volv­ing Ry­ck­man that oc­curred in the 2013-to-2014 time pe­riod; be­fore he left Bal­ti­more in 2016, Ry­ck­man was rep­re­sent­ing the city po­lice on a Drug En­force­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion task force.

Derek Hines, an as­sis­tant U.S. at­tor­ney in­volved in the Gun Trace Task Force prose­cu­tion, re­cently re­ac­ti­vated two fed­eral cases in Mary­land in which Ry­ck­man was one of the ar­rest­ing of­fi­cers. One of those cases has a hear­ing sched­uled for this af­ter­noon; records show the de­fen­dant in the case, Enzo Blanks, is no longer in cus­tody.

The Sun re­ported last month that a ma­jor gun case brought by Ry­ck­man in Cal­i­for­nia had been abruptly dropped within days of be­ing filed, and that Ry­ck­man had left the ATF un­der un­clear cir­cum­stances.

In the let­ter from Cal­i­for­nia pros­e­cu­tors, they say they are un­aware of mis­con­duct by Ry­ck­man re­lated to his work as an ATF agent in Cal­i­for­nia. They dis­close that he brought with him to Cal­i­for­nia a paid in­for­mant he had used in Bal­ti­more.

“Our of­fice does not in­tend to rely on state­ments made or ev­i­dence col­lected by Mr. Ry­ck­man,” the let­ter says.

Both of the re­opened cases in Mary­land in­volve Ry­ck­man and Jenk­ins.

Jenk­ins was the leader of a squad that was reg­u­larly stop­ping peo­ple with­out prob­a­ble cause, con­duct­ing il­le­gal searches, ly­ing in court pa­per­work and af­fi­davits and steal­ing money from peo­ple they de­tained. Un­der Jenk­ins’ di­rec­tion, co­op­er­at­ing of­fi­cers tes­ti­fied, the of­fi­cers tar­geted peo­ple for rob­beries us­ing off-the-books GPS track­ers and stole in some cases tens of thou­sands of dol­lars at a time. A co­con­spir­a­tor also tes­ti­fied that Jenk­ins took drugs off the street and pro­vided them to him to sell, with the pair split­ting the pro­ceeds.

Jenk­ins has ad­mit­ted to be­ing in­volved in a 2010 in­ci­dent in which drugs were planted on a man, to a rob­bery in 2011, and to a string of crimes be­tween 2014 through 2016.

Christo­pher Roys­ter told The Sun in an in­ter­view last month that he was robbed after be­ing ar­rested by Ry­ck­man and Jenk­ins in 2013. Roys­ter was ar­rested by the of­fi­cers in Septem­ber of that year, and his case was taken to fed­eral court, where he en­tered a guilty plea and served five years in prison.

Roys­ter said Jenk­ins and Ry­ck­man stopped him in South­west Bal­ti­more, then took his keys and went to his apart­ment, a com­mon tac­tic of Jenk­ins’ that is con­firmed in Roys­ter’s plea agree­ment. There, he said, he had $56,000 in a pil­low­case that van­ished and was not doc­u­mented in court pa­per­work in his case. Roys­ter says he was charged with hav­ing two guns, but ad­mits he had ad­di­tional guns in the home that weren’t ac­counted for.

Roys­ter said he wants to have his con­vic­tion over­turned to clear his record. He said he has not been con­tacted by the FBI or the U.S. At­tor­ney’s Of­fice.

“This stuff is way big­ger than Jenk­ins, and ev­ery­body knows that,” Roys­ter said.

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