Baltimore Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa faces federal charges for failing to file his income tax returns for three years, prosecutors said Thursday.
They allege De Sousa willfully did not file federal returns in 2013, 2014 and 2015. If he's found guilty on all three misdemeanor charges, he could spend up to three years in prison and pay up to $75,000 in fines, according to the U.S. attorney's office in Maryland.
"I fully admit to failing to file my personal federal and state taxes for 2013, 2014 and 2015," De Sousa said in a statement. "While there is no excuse for my failure to fulfill my obligations as a citizen and public official, my only explanation is that I failed to sufficiently prioritize my personal affairs."
De Sousa said that he did file his 2016 taxes and received an extension to file his 2017 taxes. He said that while he didn't file taxes between 2013 and 2015, he has paid federal, state and local taxes through the standard salary withholding process.
De Sousa said he "deeply regrets any embarrassment" the incident had caused the police department and the city.
Mayor Catherine Pugh expressed confidence in De Sousa following announcement of the charges.
"He made a mistake in not filing his taxes for the years in question. He is working to resolve this matter and has assured me that he will do so as quickly as possible," she said in a statement.
Pugh said she has "full confidence" in De Sousa and trusts that "he will continue to focus on our number one priority of reducing violence."
Four months on the job
He was appointed commissioner in January after Mayor Catherine Pugh ousted former police Commissioner Kevin Davis, claiming she chose to replace Davis because the city was not reducing violence fast enough amid a soaring homicide rate.
"I'm impatient," Pugh said in a news conference in January where she appointed De Sousa. "We need more violence reduction. We need the numbers to go down faster than they are."
There were 340 homicides in Baltimore in 2017 -- the highest yearly number on record for the city in more than two decades.
A tumultuous police department
De Sousa's appointment came at a time when the department was facing a number of public challenges outside of the city's high homicide rate.
A 2016 Justice Department report found that Baltimore police had long engaged in racial bias against African-Americans. Criminal charges were also brought against several officers accused of filing false affidavits and stopping people to seize their money.
On top of that, a Baltimore homicide detective was shot dead in November, the day before he was scheduled to testify to a federal grand jury about the officers who were accused of seizing people's money. The detective's death remains unsolved.
There was some speculation that De Sousa was appointed because of the detective's unsolved death, but Pugh deflected that when asked at a news conference.
"My decision is because I'm impatient," Pugh said. "My decision is based on the fact that we need to get these numbers down."