A Washington, D.C., police officer was charged Tuesday with money laundering in connection with an alleged drug-trafficking scheme in the Pittsburgh and Baltimore areas. Federal authorities say more than $2 million in proceeds from cocaine was hidden.
Officer Jared K. Weinberg, 28, was taken into custody Monday at the 4th District police station, according to a department spokeswoman. The charges in a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh allege a broad conspiracy that includes meetings in which prosecutors say large amounts of cash were exchanged at apartment buildings in Howard County and at the Mall in Columbia.
Authorities said the allegations predate the officer's time on the D.C. force. The investigation appears to have begun before Weinberg was hired in February 2012.
Gwendolyn Crump, a D.C. police spokeswoman, said information about the investigation was kept confidential by federal authorities, so it did not surface in background checks made during the hiring process. The officer does not have a criminal record in Maryland or the District. Neither he nor his lawyer could be reached for comment.
Crump said Weinberg has been put on administrative leave and his police powers have been suspended. He was released on his own recognizance at a hearing in federal court in Washington on Tuesday and ordered to report to the federal Pretrial Services Agency in Pittsburgh by Friday.
Weinberg, who at the time of the allegations in 2010 and 2011 earned a $6,500 salary as a lifeguard at a fitness club in Elkridge, is one of more than a dozen defendants named in a drug- and money-laundering case that includes his father, according to court documents.
Federal prosecutors allege that Weinberg helped hide profits from the operation by setting up accounts at 29 banks in Baltimore, Chicago and New York in which 305 deposits were made totaling $1.8 million. In addition, officials say, alleged drug money was used to pay for apartments in Columbia, Elkridge and Pikesville for members of the group, including Weinberg.
Some of the defendants have been charged with drug counts, while others face money-laundering charges. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania said all the cases are pending. Some of the charges were filed months ago, and those cases are in the pretrial-motion phase.
The criminal complaint says the suspected drug supplier enlisted the help of the Weinbergs and others to "rent apartments in the Baltimore, Maryland area . . . used during his frequent trips to Baltimore to conduct the business of his cocaine enterprise."