HBO’s ‘We Own This City’ takes a grim look at police corruption, specifically at the infamous Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF) of the Baltimore Police Department. Investigators slowly uncover an insidious culture of stealing, submitting false reports, and abuse of power in the special task force, leading to a multi-year investigation.
On the show, FBI agent John Sieracki teams up with special agent Erika Jensen to uncover some very ugly details about how some members of the GTTF have been abusing their positions. Considering much of the show draws from real life, let’s take a look at whether there is a real person behind the character of John Sieracki in ‘We Own This City.’
Is John Sieracki Based on a Real Person?
Yes, John Sieracki is based on a real person. In the show, actor Don Harvey essays John Sieracki — a second-generation BPD police officer who is assigned to the public corruption task force and subsequently investigates members of the GTTF. Because of his time in the BPD, Sieracki brings key knowledge to the investigation. As it turns out, the character in ‘We Own This City’ is based on the very real John Sieracki III, who was part of the FBI task force that investigated members of the GTTF.
According to his profile, Sieracki worked with the Baltimore Police Department for nearly three decades and was also a Task Force Officer for the FBI. As a second-generation police officer, he followed in the footsteps of his veteran father, who had a 30-year career with the BPD and retired in 2003. In 2010, Sieracki was transferred to Internal Affairs (IA). With no specialized training to conduct IA investigations, the agent learned on the job and later began recruiting other BPD officers to his team.
However, the stringent background checks and interviews that Sieracki carried out on potential team members, coupled with a general reluctance to join IA for fear of being labeled a “rat,” made hiring difficult. In 2013, Sieracki left IA and joined the FBI task force which would eventually unravel the GTTF scandal and bring many of its members to justice. Justin Fenton’s ‘We Own This City: A True Story of Crime, Cops and Corruption in an American City,’ the show’s source material, details how Sieracki was working out of the Woodlawn FBI offices.
A connection between GTTF member Momodu Gondo and drug dealer Antonio Shropshire allowed the investigators to tap the former’s phone. A number of discoveries about the corrupt police officers’ modus operandi were discovered, including the fact that they were submitting false reports while actually stealing money from suspects. Investigators also used Sieracki’s access to department databases to review the timesheets of suspected police officers.
FBI agent ERIKA JENSEN and BPD Sgt John Sieracki were among those investigating the task force. They had worked the same type of cases, and say they never saw the sort of behavior they were now investigating. /6 pic.twitter.com/G3RNyNt6vo
— Justin Fenton (@justin_fenton) February 23, 2021
Along with agent Erika Jenson, Sieracki was the lead investigator of the FBI task force that made numerous shocking revelations about the corrupt GTTF. During subsequent interviews, they both pointed to an event from July 8, 2016, when members of the GTTF searched the home of Ronald Hamilton and his wife, as a turning point in their investigation. On that particular day, Wayne Jenkins, Momodu Gondo, Daniel Hersl, and Jemell Rayam allegedly robbed the Hamiltons and later lied on their probable cause statements. The incident is also depicted in episode 5 of ‘We Own This City.’
Where is John Sieracki Now?
According to his public profile, John Sieracki III is currently a Special Agent for the Office of the Maryland State Prosecutor. He appears to also be based in Towson, Maryland. However, further details about his personal life have been kept out of the public eye.