(CNN) — Baltimore Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa was suspended with pay Friday amid charges that he failed to file income tax returns for three years, Mayor Catherine Pugh said.
The suspension comes a day after the US attorney’s office in Maryland alleged De Sousa willfully did not file federal returns in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
Pugh read a statement Friday praising De Sousa’s job performance but saying the “suspension pending resolution of this matter is in the best interest of the Baltimore Police Department, the city of Baltimore and him personally.”
“All Baltimore citizens can be assured that these developments will in no way impede our relentless effort to make our city safer,” Pugh said.
If De Sousa is found guilty on all three misdemeanor charges, he could spend up to three years in prison and pay up to $75,000 in fines, according to the US attorney’s office.
On Thursday, De Sousa said he fully admitted his failure to file personal federal and state taxes for those three years.
“While there is no excuse for my failure to fulfill my obligations as a citizen and public official, my only explanation is that I failed to sufficiently prioritize my personal affairs,” he said in a statement.
De Sousa said he filed his 2016 taxes and received an extension to file his 2017 taxes. He said that while he didn’t file taxes between 2013 and 2015, he has paid federal, state and local taxes through the standard salary withholding process.
De Sousa said he “deeply regrets any embarrassment” he caused the police department and the city.
Pugh on Friday said the city had “learned a few lessons” about the vetting process for the commissioner’s job, though she noted that De Sousa has served the department “honorably” for more than 30 years.
A day earlier, the mayor said she had “full confidence” in De Sousa and trusts “he will continue to focus on our No. 1 priority of reducing violence.”
“I can tell you … crime is trending in the right direction,” Pugh said Friday. “This is a personal matter … and I hope he gets it taken care of.”
Deputy Commissioner Gary Tuggle will serve as acting commissioner, Pugh said.
De Sousa was appointed commissioner in January after the mayor ousted former police Commissioner Kevin Davis, claiming the city was not reducing violence fast enough amid a soaring homicide rate.
Baltimore had more than 340 homicides in 2017 — the highest yearly number on record in more than two decades.