Police officers face charges of conspiracy and extortion in Baltimore.
Imagine you get into a car accident. You call the police to file a report. And then, an officer shows up on the scene, calls an auto repair shop of his choosing, and has your car towed there. Also, imagine that the officer gets a cut of the money from the auto shop.
U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein says that's just what a joint investigation by the Baltimore Police Department and the FBI found.
"Today 17 Baltimore police officers were charged for conspiring with two owners of an auto body repair business in an alleged extortion scheme," he says. "A government employee cannot accept payment in return for using the authority of his or her office."
The Associated Press reported Thursday that 31 officers in total have been suspended.
According to the affidavit, this arrangement between police officers and the Majestic Auto Repair Shop in Rosedale, Md., dates back to 2009.
Fifteen of the officers have been arrested. Two of them have yet to be found.
"The Police Department did their job, they routed out corruption within their own ranks, and they should be very proud of that effort," says Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld III.
Each police officer faces a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison, if convicted.