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Feds: Ex-Baltimore police officer admitted misconduct, expanding scope of corruption probe

Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in News & Features

BALTIMORE -- 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 Det. 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 Wednesday.

"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.

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A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office could not be reached for comment regarding what local authorities were doing with the information regarding 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.

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