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Jury finds ex-Baltimore police officer not guilty of drug money theft

The officer had been charged with stealing about $10K in cartel money from a 2016 drug raid, another $1K from a CI and lying to the FBI

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Photo/Lee Sanderlin via TNS

By Lee O. Sanderlin
Baltimore Sun

BALTIMORE — Ex-Baltimore Police officer Ethan Glover fell to the courtroom floor sobbing Monday afternoon after a federal jury returned a not guilty verdict in his corruption trial.

Glover, who was jointly assigned to the police department and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, was charged with stealing about $10,000 in cartel money from a 2016 drug raid, stealing another $1,000 from a confidential informant, and then lying about ever having stolen money to FBI agents. Glover always maintained his innocence, testifying last week that he “never” stole money or drugs while working as a law enforcement officer.

The jury deliberated for about four hours. Glover, wearing a gray suit and black-rimmed glasses, could not control his reaction upon hearing the verdict, shouting “Yes!” before collapsing to the floor. His family and friends, gathered behind him, erupted in cheers.

Indicted since 2021 and suspended from the police force since 2020, a still emotional Glover struggled to find words before ultimately thanking his family and friends for their continued support.

“I haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep in almost three years,” he said. “This is going to be the first night that I get to sleep and wake up and not worry about what the rest of my future is going to look like.”

Glover’s acquittal marks a rare defeat for federal prosecutors, and is likely the end of the fallout from the U.S. Department of Justice’s investigation into the former Gun Trace Task Force police squad. The squad, helmed by disgraced ex-cop Wayne Jenkins, robbed drug dealers, sold drugs themselves and regularly violated the constitutional rights of residents.

While not a member of the rogue squad, Glover was present at some of the money seizures that later turned into crimes and served as a government witness in two federal trials, both of which ended in convictions. Assistant U.S. Attorney Leo Wise led the prosecution against Glover, as he did all of the former Baltimore Police officers, with Glover’s case being the only one in which the government failed to secure a conviction.

Glover’s defense attorney, Joseph Murtha, said prosecutors handled the case with a “steam roller attitude” and questioned whether they should have brought it at all.

“I’m very grateful for the verdict and the work of everyone that helped us get to the point where Ethan Glover was vindicated in a federal trial,” Murtha said.

Prosecutors and Murtha made impassioned closing statements Monday in Glover’s corruption trial, with Murtha focusing on the inconsistencies and evidence, or lack thereof, from various witnesses’ testimony throughout the case.

Murtha played up Glover’s role as a former federal witness in the same kinds of cases he was being prosecuted for, telling the jury that when the government trusted him as a witness, they were in essence endorsing his credibility. Prosecutors objected to the statement, and U.S. District Judge Stephanie Gallagher sided with them.

The federal government’s case against Glover, in Murtha’s eyes, hinged entirely on the testimony of his ex-fiancée, Kim Campbell, and convicted Mexican cartel drug dealer Enixae Hernandez-Barba.

“[Prosecutors] don’t want you to look at the details of this case,” Murtha told the jury.

Campbell testified that on April 8, 2016, the day Glover and other DEA agents raided a warehouse and a Linthicum Heights home, he called her and claimed to have stolen $10,000 from the scene. Law enforcement seized approximately $2.4 million in drug money, contained in duffel bags found in the suburban home’s basement.

Glover and other officers also found a tally sheet in the home, the cartel’s accounting of how much cash was present. The sheet listed a total different from what the DEA officially recorded as seized — about $10,000 different.

Wise and fellow Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Goo seized on the tally sheet, coupled with Campbell’s testimony and evidence that Glover rode alone from the Linthicum Heights house to another crime scene and then to the DEA offices, as proof of the theft.

“Numbers don’t lie,” Wise told jurors. “That’s what this case comes down to. That’s the inconvenient truth being ignored by the defendant.”

Hernandez-Barba, who was arrested as part of the 2016 DEA raid, testified with the aid of an interpreter that miscounting the money for the cartel could lead to grave consequences, even death.

Dismissive of Hernandez-Barba’s testimony, Murtha pointed out that drug dealers lie, that Hernandez-Barba was not killed and that investigators did not interview him about the $10,000 discrepancy until the summer of 2022, more than a year after prosecutors secured an indictment against Glover. The indictment was announced April 8, 2021, exactly five years to the date of the 2016 raid and the last day Glover could be charged for conduct related to those events under the statute of limitations.

Also at issue is exactly where the money was in Glover’s car when he drove it to the DEA offices. Campbell testified that Glover told her it was in the backseat, and he was able to take some out while driving. Later that night, she said, he showed up at her house with the cash and asked to hide it there. He would later move it, she said.

Denying the entire sequence of events Campbell described, Glover testified that the money was in his trunk and that another DEA agent, Task Force Officer Rodrigo Crisostomo, followed behind him and had helped load and unload the money. Glover said he was never alone with direct access to the money.

No one who was at the Linthicum Heights seizure, except Glover, testified about where the money was in his car.

Murtha also worked to paint Campbell, who shares custody of twin daughters with Glover, as a woman scorned, telling the jury that she may only have contacted investigators after the couple split up and become involved in a contentious custody battle.

“There are so many facts that are actually missing and the government wants you to fill those gaps,” Murtha told jurors.

Prosecutors pushed back, saying that Campbell could not have made up her story because she volunteered the $10,000 figure to the FBI, which investigators later claim to have matched to the tally sheet.

“The FBI didn’t even know at the time that $10,000 was missing,” Wise said.

Prosecutors supplied a receipt for shoes Glover bought Campbell, who was pregnant at the time, in the days after the raid as further proof he spent the money.

The shoes cost less than $400, and Glover testified he had several side jobs to help support his and Campbell’s lifestyle, and that he was generous toward the soon-to-be mother of his children.

Glover and Campbell also testified that he bought her a Louis Vuitton purse and was the cosigner for a car.

Both Murtha and prosecutors spent less time focusing on the $1,000 paid to the confidential informant. The informer provided information about a fatal hit-and-run, and Glover arranged to have him paid for it. The informant, who was “close friends” with Campbell, testified that he later decided he did not want to be an informant and returned the money.

There is no record of a return, with prosecutors saying Glover kept it for himself. Glover also denied that claim and testified that the informant often performed odd jobs around his home.

Now married, Glover thanked his wife for her support during his criminal case, and for never doubting his innocence. The couple met at the beginning of his case, after he and Campbell separated, he said.

“She had no reason to stand by me, but that shows the woman that she is and she stood by me throughout this,” Glover said.

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