Watch CBS News

Former BPD Commissioner Darryl DeSousa Shares Lessons, Regrets After Spending Time In Prison On Tax Fraud

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- "It's over, it's over."

On November 11, 2020, former Baltimore Police commissioner Darryl DeSousa walked to freedom after spending 275 days in a federal prison in New Jersey.

DeSousa pleaded guilty to failing to file federal tax returns for three years.

Baltimore police chief charged with failing to file taxes; mayor has not asked for resignation
Baltimore Police Commissioner Darryl DeSousa during a news conference on May 9, 2018, at Police Headquarters. He was charged on Thursday, May 10, 2018, by federal prosecutors with three misdemeanor counts of failing to file federal taxes. (Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

He looks back with regret for failing his high command and calling to be a police officer.

Vic Carter: Does it bother you that you are no longer commissioner?

DeSousa: Actually, it bothers me more, or it hurts me a little bit more to know that I'm not on the job. So not necessarily the rank of commissioner, but just the rank of a police officer, you know, just being an officer.

Carter: Does it make you angry that this happened?

DeSousa: I'm angry at myself, you know, I'm angry at myself more than anybody. Because I felt as though I left so much on the table. And I don't mean just as that role as commissioner that felt like I just left a lot on the table in terms of community and just Baltimore, my passion

Carter: Do you owe the people of Baltimore an apology?

DeSousa: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Carter: Give us one

DeSousa: Baltimore city, I apologize for letting you down. I wish I would have stayed on the job. And I probably would have stayed on the job. As long as air was in my lungs, still my lungs, but I apologize for letting y'all down.

Carter: Describe for us the day that you receive word that you were being indicted and that you were in real trouble.

DeSousa: I received a call telling me to come down and meet with some investigators. And to be honest, I thought it was a reference to some, you know, investigation citywide or something internally in the police department. And when I found out and I sat down with the investigators, and I found out it was about me when they said we have a misdemeanor federal arrest warrant for you. To me, you know, you had those out-of-body experiences. Like, did you just say that? Or I don't, I didn't understand it.

In court testimony, a friend said part of DeSousa's demise was credited to his desire to care for his ailing parents in New York. Working long days he would drive back to New York, handling police business while there, and funding every aspect of his parents' lives.

Carter: When the time came for you to go to prison --describe that day.

DeSousa: Good friends and loved ones drove me to New Jersey. And to me, that drive seemed like it was an eight, nine-hour drive when in reality, it was two hours. We talked about good times, talked about bad times. You know, we read scriptures. We pulled up at the institution. And the first thing that you see is the gates, you know, you see a prison, you see the gates, you see the fence, you see the barbed wire. And that's when you say, wow, this is you know, this is prison this world, this is what I'm going to spend the next 10 months. And as I got on the outside of the sallyport inside the medium facility, turned and looked at my friends and loved ones who are still there. And I just wanted them to know that I was strong enough. So I waved goodbye, but I stood tall, had my head held up, no, just out just to let them know that I would be okay.

Carter: You're a police officer entering a prison filled with people who were put there by police officers. Are you concerned for your safety at all?

DeSousa: 100%? Yes. 100%. I mean, that's reality. I'm kind of hard-headed in a way, I was so frustrated at myself, I didn't care what happened to myself. That's the posture at the onset. But I knew that the Lord was going to take me and he was gonna carry me through. I knew I was going to be safe in his arms.

Carter: Do you want to be a cop again?

DeSousa: I'd love to. I'd love to know that's not going to happen. Short of that, I still want to help the community. I'm still going to advocate for the community. I'm not going to wear a badge. I wear a suit. But I still want to be that person who advocates for safety in the community

Carter: Restrictions are in place... you can't be a cop.

DeSousa: That is correct

Carter: Does that hurt you?

DeSousa: Yes of course, but those restrictions need to be in place.

While in prison DeSousa also calmed his fears by journaling -- capturing his thoughts on paper every day at 6 a.m. in the prison chapel:

This was his last entry the day he was released on November 11.

"My theme for that day was wounded but not broken," DeSousa said.

"It's over! I made it! Praise to Him. I praise the Lord with all my heart. It was a difficult journey, but God pulled me through. I was lost, I didn't understand why. It wasn't until I grasped "I must trust in the Lord with all my heart" that I understood, I needed this journey to build on my weaknesses. While I left my strength at home -- many sad days, many days of feeling lonely and hurt. Little did I know that God was by my side each and every day. His angels remained on my shoulders, the lord's presence lifted to me from the darkest days into the light."

So what is next for Darryl DeSousa? He said he is working on a documentary and other media projects and he has developed an app -- the details of which cannot yet be released. He also plans to be active in the community. He has completed over 100 hours of community service.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article incorrectly stated that DeSousa still needed to complete community service hours. The article has been adjusted to reflect that he has completed the hours. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.