Officer allegedly used police cruiser in June's attempted burglary
The Gazette by Joshua Garner - November 16, 2009
A former Prince George's County police officer and a Capitol Heights man have been indicted on two counts of larceny for allegedly attempting to break into a SunTrust Bank in Temple Hills in June, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland said Monday. Cpl. Eddie Lee Smith Jr., 41, of the 9700 block of Rider Court in Fort Washington and Earl Blake, 53, of the 1900 block of Brooks Drive were indicted Monday for conspiracy to commit bank larceny and attempted bank larceny stemming from a June 10 incident in which the men allegedly attempted to break into the bank, on Old Branch Avenue. If convicted, both men face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for attempted bank larceny and five years in prison for the conspiracy. According to the indictment filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Smith, a 16-year veteran of the county police department, allegedly drove Blake to the bank in his marked police cruiser. The men allegedly then cut the phone lines to the bank and used a power saw to break into the bank. Blake allegedly took the saw and entered the bank, setting off the fire alarm, while Smith remained in the police cruiser. When Prince George's County firefighters arrived, Smith allegedly advised them to leave because he had already checked the bank and it was secure, according to the indictment. Blake then ran from the bank and was briefly chased by Smith, who returned to his car and left the area. Blake was later arrested by other Prince George's County Police Department officers.
In June, police spokesman Maj. Andy Ellis told The Gazette that Smith was located hours later and was arrested by officers from his own police district. Smith, who has resigned from the department, was one of several county officers named in July as being under investigation by the FBI for allegedly providing security and assistance to area drug dealers in a widespread corruption ring, Ellis said. In 2007, the county police department began a probe into the officers for allegedly provided security for area drug dealers who met to gamble, Ellis said. After more information was uncovered, police decided earlier this year to turn over the investigation to the FBI, he said. Richard J. Wolf, an FBI spokesman, declined to comment Monday on the status of the investigation. County Police Chief Roberto L. Hylton said in a statement the department is thankful the FBI and the U.S. attorney have investigated the bank break-in case and brought it before the grand jury. "We support due process and want the community to understand that the lack of integrity of one officer does not reflect the character of the rest of the officers working for the Prince George's County Police Department," Hylton stated. "We are held accountable like all citizens and we hold ourselves to a higher standard." Smith's attorney, William Brennan, whose office is in Greenbelt, declined to comment Monday. Blake's attorney, John Chamble, whose office is in Greenbelt, did not immediately return calls for comment Monday. No court date has been scheduled for the men. E-mail Joshua Garner at email@example.com.