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April 2010


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Baltimore Det. on DEA Task Force Pleads Guilty to Stealing Funds and Diamond Watch and Filing False Claim to DEA

By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON — A Baltimore police detective on a DEA Task Force pleaded guilty Tuesday in Baltimore federal court  to stealing Baltimore police funds, submitting a false claims to DEA for an informant and stealing a seized diamond watch, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced.

Authorities alleged that detective Mark J. Lunsford, 40,  fraudulently arranged for an informant to get more than $10,000 in payoffs he didn’t deserve, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. He was also charged with pocketing some of that money.

“Officer Lunsford committed an egregious breach of trust, but it should be noted that thousands of honorable police officers who work to promote public safety and confidence share our dismay when a law enforcement officer violates that trust,” U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein of Baltimore said in a statement.

Lunsford, of Sykesville, Md, was charged in one instance of lying in 2008 by saying that the informant provided him a phone number of a drug suspect when in fact another informant had provided it. Ultimately, investigators got a wiretap for that number.

Following the wiretap investigation, authorities charged that Lunsford exaggerated the help his informant provided in the case so that the informant could get a $10,000 award. Authorities also charged that Lunsford, with the okay of the informant, kept some of the award money himself.

In another instance, in 2009, Lunsford falsely claimed that the informant provided information which led to the arrest of another suspect and the seizure of the suspect’s $17,490. Lunsford allegedly submitted a false claim to DEA for the source to receive an award equal to 20 percent of the cash seizure, or $3,498.

He is also charged with stealing a rose-colored, stainless steel “Aqua Master” diamond watch worth more than $1,000 from an investigation.

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