Mayor Catherine Pugh has suspended police Commissioner Darryl DeSousa after he was charged with federal tax violations.
She announced the suspension with pay, effective immediately, at a Friday afternoon news conference, the day after federal authorities charged DeSousa with failing to file state and federal tax returns in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
Pugh appointed Deputy Commissioner Gary Tuggle to take over as acting commissioner while De Sousa deals with the charges.
DeSousa admitted in a statement issued Thursday that he failed to file his tax returns for those years and said his "only explanation is that I failed to sufficiently prioritize my personal affairs."
He could face a maximum of $75,000 in fines and a year in prison if convicted.
Pugh appointed De Sousa, a 30-year veteran of the Baltimore police force, commissioner in January. At the time, critics worried that his appointment was rushed. Pugh seemed to agree in the news conference.
"Let me just say we’ve learned a few lesson," she said. "I thought we vetted him pretty well. We went through his police credentials. He’d been a member of our police department for over 30 years."
The move was a reversal of her stance Thursday when she expressed confidence in De Sousa.
In a statement issued Friday, she praised De Sousa as "an effective leader" whose "innovative crime disruption and violence mitigation strategies" are "the right approaches in our number one priority of reducing violence in our city."
Nonetheless, she added, his suspension "pending resolution of this matter is in the best interest of the Baltimore Police Department, the City of Baltimore and him personally."