A federal judge sentenced ex-Baltimore Police Department sergeant Keith Gladstone to 21 months in prison Wednesday for his role in planting a BB gun on a man another officer hit with a car eight years ago.
Gladstone’s sentencing comes three years after he first pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to deprive someone of their civil rights. Gladstone has cooperated with federal prosecutors ever since, and his cooperation led to the conviction of four other officers, including two more involved in the gun-planting scheme, Assistant U.S. Attorney Leo Wise said in court.
“There’s no dispute this is a very egregious abuse of trust by Mr. Gladstone,” U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Blake said when handing down the sentence. He is to report to Bureau of Prisons custody no later than Aug. 29.
In March 2014, police Sgt. Wayne Jenkins, the disgraced leader of the corrupt Gun Trace Task Force, ran over a man, Demetric Simon, with his car in Northeast Baltimore. Jenkins couldn’t find drugs or a gun on Simon, and called Gladstone to see if he would help.
Gladstone, 54, worked with two other officers, his subordinates Carmine Vignola and Robert Hankard, to get a BB gun and drive out to the scene where Gladstone dropped the gun. Simon served 317 days in jail on the bogus gun charges.
Both Vignola and Hankard have been convicted for their roles in the incident.
Simon was in court for Gladstone’s sentencing but had to step out at one point, becoming emotional after hearing Gladstone’s wife and family describe him as someone with a good character. Simon did not speak in court, however his attorney submitted a letter he wrote asking Blake to give Gladstone the maximum punishment under the law — 37 months.
“It was dehumanizing what happened to me,” Simon wrote. “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 is suing Gladstone, Hankard, Vignola, other officers and the Baltimore Police Department for $17 million as a result of the gun planting incident.
While Gladstone was only charged in the gun-planting scheme, the crimes he committed as a member of the Baltimore Police Department go much further. At Hankard’s trial, Gladstone offered explosive testimony, detailing his decades-long history of criminal conduct.
A Baltimore police officer since 1992, Gladstone said in court that he started stealing money from drug dealers he was arresting in the mid-1990s to pay confidential informants, and that doing so was common practice inside the department.
Years later, maybe in 2003, Gladstone said, he started stealing money for himself. Gladstone testified that he also stole money with Jenkins, who was sentenced in 2018 to 25 years in prison. He estimated the pair probably stole money during raids and searches three to five times.
Protected by his prosecutor-granted immunity, Gladstone detailed the time he and two other officers decided to deliver 3 kilograms of cocaine they found inside a backpack in a police van to a confidential informant to sell on their behalf. Armed with a gun, Gladstone personally drove the officer to deliver the drugs.
Sometimes, he said, he stole objects instead of money. Once, a suspect traded him an AR-15 rifle in exchange for being set free. In addition to planting the gun on Simon, Gladstone once planted drugs on another suspect, he testified in April.
Prosecutors granted Gladstone immunity for his testimony in the Hankard matter, meaning his words couldn’t be used against him in future cases. Blake, the judge, said Gladstone was only being sentenced for the crime he was charged with, not the one he admitted to.
David Irwin, Gladstone’s attorney, said his client’s bad actions tarnished a police career that was “99%” good and that he has been on the path of redemption ever since being caught and charged
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Four members of Gladstone’s family — his wife Polly and children Courtenay, Cody and Kyle — spoke in support of him. They described a man at odds with his actions: a good father, a loving husband and someone who wanted to help the needy, especially veterans.
“That’s how Keith has been his whole life,” Polly Gladstone said.
Kyle Gladstone, who served in the U.S. Army, said he did not condone his father’s actions, but that he realizes he acted the way he did to protect people he cared about, meaning the other officers.
Cody Gladstone said he understands his father’s actions, as well as the actions of the more than 15 other police officers convicted for misconduct, including civil rights violations.
“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.
As for Keith Gladstone, he used his time in court to apologize for what he had done, promising he had turned the corner. Specifically he apologized to Simon, the city’s residents and the police department.
“They deserved better from me,” he said.