Officer Juan Carter convicted of stealing guns in Prince George’s County

January 15, 2013

A Prince George’s County police officer accused of selling and giving away guns he had seized from criminals was found guilty Tuesday of theft and misconduct in office.

Juan Carter, 38, was ordered directly to jail after a jury reached guilty verdicts on all counts against him in less than two hours of deliberation. As bailiffs brushed aside his suit jacket to handcuff him, Carter looked at his attorneys and scowled.

Authorities had charged Carter with redistributing or selling guns that he obtained while working on a Maryland State Police-run gun task force in 2008 and 2009. Prosecutors say 21 guns never made it to the Prince George’s County police property room as they should have.

The trial in Prince George’s Circuit Court was Carter’s second in the same case. His first trial ended last year in a hung jury.

After the verdict, Prince George’s State’s Attorney Angela D. Alsobrooks said the case demonstrated that police were “able and willing to police their own.”

“Nobody is above the law,” she said.

In their final arguments to jurors, attorneys waded through the nitty-gritty details of the evidence presented during Carter’s trial, which began last week.

Prince George’s Assistant State’s Attorney Jonathon Church had told jurors that from April 23, 2008, to September 23, 2009, Carter did not turn over a single gun to the police department’s property room or file the requisite paperwork. Church said a supervisor’s reports connected Carter to missing weapons.

Some of those weapons were later seized from Carter’s friends, Church said.

Defense attorneys said Carter was a “fall guy” for a task force beset by problems. In his closing argument, attorney Doug Wood said police only began the investigating after one of the guns in question was used in a shooting — even though others had already been recovered by law enforcement officers.

Jurors were not told the details of that shooting, in which an off-duty Prince George’s police officer was shot during an attempted carjacking.

Wood said after the hearing that he was “ disappointed” with the verdict and planned to appeal. Relatives of Carter’s declined to comment.

Carter is scheduled to be sentenced March 25. Police said that he has been suspended without pay but that the department is moving to fire him.

Matt Zapotosky covers the federal district courthouse in Alexandria, where he tries to break news from a windowless office in which he is not allowed to bring his cell phone.
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