Baltimore detective must resign over grocery store theft

Justice SystemCrime, Law and JusticeTheft

A veteran Baltimore police detective must resign from the department after being placed on probation for stealing groceries with her daughter, a cashier at the store where the theft occurred.

Darlene Early, a Western District detective who joined the department in 1990, entered an Alford plea Wednesday to one count of theft under $1,000. An Alford plea allows a defendant to maintain innocence while admitting that prosecutors have enough evidence for a conviction.

Her 18-year-old daughter, Ciara Anderson, pleaded guilty to the same charge, prosecutors said.

As a district detective, Early investigated nonfatal shootings, robberies and other serious cases, and court records show that several cases in which she was involved are still pending in court.

Mark Cheshire, a spokesman for the Baltimore state's attorney's office, said prosecutors will "conduct a thorough analysis and make determinations on how to proceed" on those cases.

Police said Anderson was working as a cashier on March 9 at the Food Depot in the 2400 block of Belair Road and intentionally undercharged her mother by $300.58 for groceries.

Early, 41, received three months' probation before judgment, prosecutors said. The agreement requires her to resign from the Police Department, stay away from the Food Depot and pay the store restitution.

Early's attorney, Warren S. Alperstein, said she was "extremely satisfied with the result" and that the sentence was "fair and appropriate given the facts and circumstances." He said Early presented 10 letters from supporters to Circuit Judge Lynn K. Stewart, and that she coordinates a program for underprivileged children through her church.

Anderson also received probation before judgment and was placed on six months' supervised probation.

jfenton@baltsun.com

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