Former Baltimore Police Sgt. Keith Allen Gladstone has admitted to planting a BB gun on an innocent man, stealing money from drug dealers, orchestrating a drug deal and letting a suspect go free in exchange for an assault rifle, but he will spend less than two years in federal prison.
U.S. Attorney’s Office could only prosecute Gladstone for planting the BB gun on Demetric Simon eight years ago. U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake handed down the 21-month sentence on July 13.
Gladstone pleaded guilty to conspiracy to deprive liberty without the due process of law three years ago and also agreed to testify against other corrupt officers, including the leader of the notorious Gun Trace Task Force, known for exploiting and abusing Black people and dirty police practices. Gladstone had prosecutor-granted immunity when he confessed to the other crimes.
“There’s no dispute this is a very egregious abuse of trust by Mr. Gladstone,” Blake said when handing down the sentence.
Sgt. Wayne Jenkins of the Gun Trace Task Force ran over Simon in March 2014, but he could not find any drugs or weapons on the man, so he called Gladstone for help. Gladstone asked one of his subordinates, Detective Robert Hankard, to buy the BB gun.
Gladstone and another subordinate, Detective Carmine Vignola, drove to the incident scene, where Gladstone dropped the gun and signaled to Jenkins, court documents show. Simon spent 317 days in jail for gun possession charges before they were dismissed.
“It was dehumanizing what happened to me,” Simon wrote in a letter read aloud in court by his lawyer. “I appreciate Gladstone testified against other officers also responsible, but only after he was caught red-handed. But that’s what a narcissist does. He never apologized. He never showed remorse. Not to me. Not to the people of Baltimore.”
Simon had asked the judge to sentence Gladstone to the maximum sentence of 37 months in prison. He had to leave the court after being overwhelmed with emotion when Gladstone’s family boasted about his integrity, according to reports.
Gladstone, 53, joined the Baltimore Police Department as an officer in 1992, according to court documents. He was promoted to sergeant 19 years later. Gladstone initially retired from the force in December 2012 but was reinstated in December 2013, documents show.
He retired from the department again in May 2017, three months after Jenkins was charged with a slew of federal offenses, including racketeering, conspiracy, robbery and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.
Gladstone’s wife and children described him as a loving and giving father and a good husband who looked out for others. His son, Kyle, said he did not condone his father’s actions, but he and his brother, Cody, said they understood that he did it to protect the colleagues he cared for in the department.
About 15 Baltimore officers were also convicted for misconduct at the time. Gladstone’s subordinates, Vignola and Hankard, were also indicted for their role in framing Simon after Gladstone implicated them.
“I can understand why the officers look out for one another because the [state’s attorney] is after them and not the criminals in the streets,” Cody Gladstone said.
Simon has filed a $17 million lawsuit against the police department, Gladstone, Hankard, Vignola and other officers involved in the scheme.
Gladstone, in court, said he started stealing drug money early on in his career to pay confidential informants, adding that it was a common practice on the force. By 2003, Gladstone said he started keeping the money for himself.
Gladstone also admitted to stealing money in raids with Jenkins three to five times and planting drugs on a suspect. He said he once delivered 3 kilograms of cocaine he found in a police van to an informant to sell for him and, in another instance, accepted an AR-15 rifle to set a suspect free.
Gladstone’s attorney, David Irwin, said the former sergeant’s bad actions tarnished a police career that was “99 percent” good and that he has been seeking redemption since being charged, according to reports.
Gladstone apologized to Simon, the city’s residents and the police department during his sentencing hearing.
“They deserved better from me,” he said.