A Middle River man became the latest Baltimore City police officer to admit his role in an illegal towing scheme involving a Rosedale auto shop.
Kelvin Quade Manrich, 42, of Middle River, pleaded guilty last week to conspiracy and extortion charges after five days of trial in federal court, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland.
This came at the same time as a federal jury convicted another city officer, Samuel Ocasio, age 36, of Edgewood, of similar charges that the owners of Majestic Auto Repair paid him, Manrich and other Baltimore City police officers to arrange for their company, rather than a city-authorized business, to tow vehicles from accident scenes and make repairs, according to a news release.
“Working as a law enforcement officer is a commitment and not just a job, which is why it requires a sworn oath,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein in a statement. “A police officer who takes a payment from a private citizen in connection with public duties crosses a bright line from which there is no return.”
According to a news release, beginning in 2008, Manrich and Ocasio contacted Majestic owners Herman Alexis Moreno and Edwin Javier Mejia for towing and repair services, even though Majestic was not an authorized Baltimore City towing company.
In exchange, the owners paid the officers up to $300 for each vehicle they referred to Majestic, according to the release. Moreno, 30, of Rosedale, and Mejia, 27, of Middle River, .
Both officers face a maximum sentence of five years in prison for the conspiracy, and a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,0000, according to the release.
Sentencing for Ocasio is set for June 1 while Manrich is scheduled to be sentenced on May 25.
Overall, 14 Baltimore Police officers have pleaded guilty in federal court and one pleaded guilty in state court in connection to the towing scheme.