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Black-Booked

The Black Guerrilla Family prison gang sought legitimacy, but got indictments

Black Guerrilla Family indictees (clockwise from top left) Avon Freeman, Darien Scipio, Darryl Taylor, Deitra Davenport, Marlow Bates, Nelson Robinson, Randolph Edison, Roosevelt Drummond, Ray Olivis, and Zachary Norman

By Van Smith | Posted 8/5/2009

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The cover of Eric Brown's The Black Book.

A Black Guerilla Family logo.

The Eric Brown Prison-Gang Conspiracy

Eric Brown, aka "Dee Brown," "E," and "EB"
Ray Olivis, aka "Ronnie Hargrove," "Uncle Ray," "Unc," and "Ray Ray"
Deitra Davenport, aka "Sister D"
Rainbow Williams
Tomeka Harris, aka "Tomika Harris" and "Andrea Huff"
Marlow Bates
Randolph Edison, aka "Uncle Rudy"
Roosevelt Drummond, aka "June" and "Q"
Zachary Norman, aka "Zack"
Kevin Glasscho, aka "KG"
Tavekia Smith, aka "Kiki"
Terry Robe
Asia Burrus
Musheerah Habeebullah

The Kevin Glasscho Drug-Dealing Conspiracy

Kevin Glasscho, aka "KG"
Tyrone Dow, aka "Flavor"
Calvin Robinson
Avon Freeman
James Huntley
Darryl Dawayne Taylor
Joe Taylor-Bey, aka "Joe Taylor"
Darnell Angelo Holmes, aka "Moe"
Darien Larenz Scipio, aka "Reds"
Lakia Hatchett
Cassandra Adams
Nelson Robinson (charged separately)

"I'm a responsible adult," 41-year-old Avon Freeman says to Baltimore U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge James Bredar. The gold on his teeth glimmers as he speaks, his weak chin holding up a soul patch. He's a two-time drug felon facing a new federal drug indictment, brought by a grand jury in April as part of the two conspiracy cases conducted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in Maryland involving the Black Guerrilla Family (BGF) prison gang ("Guerrilla Warfare," Mobtown Beat, April 22). Now it's July 27, and Freeman, standing tall in his maroon prison jumpsuit, believes himself to be a safe bet for release. He's being detained, pending an as-yet unscheduled trial, at downtown Baltimore's Supermax prison facility, where he says he fears for his safety.

The particulars of Freeman's fears are not made public, though Bredar, defense attorney Joseph Gigliotti, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Clinton Fuchs have discussed them already during an off-the-record bench conference. Danger signs from prison first cropped up in the case immediately after it was filed, though, when Fuchs' colleague on the case, James Wallner, told a judge on Apr. 21 that the BGF had allegedly offered $10,000 for a "hit placed out on several correctional officers" and "all others involved in this investigation, and that would include prosecutors" ("BGF Offers $10,000 for Hits, Prosecutor Says," The News Hole, April 23).

In open court, though, Gigliotti has said only that Freeman feels "endangered" by "conditions" at the Supermax, that "several of his co-defendants" also are housed there, and that "at a minimum," Bredar should "put him in a halfway house, or at home with his sister under electronic monitoring." The judge disagrees, but Freeman--against Judge Bredar's adamant warning that it's a "bad idea" and that "any statement you make could be used against you"--still wants to speak.

"I did have a job--I was working," Freeman says of his days before his BGF arrest, and says of his family and friends, about 20 of whom are watching from the benches of the courtroom gallery, "I got the kids here, responsible adults here." He declares he's "not a flight risk" and says he "always come[s] to court when I'm told." He stresses, "I am a responsible adult."

Freeman's doing what many people in his shoes do. He may be accused of being caught on wiretaps arranging drug transactions and of being witnessed by investigators participating in one. The prosecutor may say a raid of Freeman's home turned up scales and $2,000 in alleged drug cash. But Freeman is still claiming to be a hard-working family man, a legitimate citizen, as safe and reliable as the next guy.

The details of the more than two dozen defendants indicted in the BGF case, filed against a Maryland offshoot of BGF's national organization, suggest Freeman is not the only one among them who craves legitimacy. Information from court records, public documents, and the defendants' court appearances over the past three months make some appear as "responsible adults" leading productive lives--or at least, like Freeman, as wanting to be seen that way (for a gallery of BGF indictees, visit citypaper.com/go/familyportraits).

Bredar sides with the government on the question of letting Freeman out of the Supermax. "There's a high probability of conviction" based on the evidence against Freeman, Bredar says, adding that, given Freeman's well-established criminal past, he poses a danger to society. So back Freeman goes to face his BGF fears. "I love you all," he calls out to his 20-or-so family members and friends in the gallery, as U.S. marshals escort him out of the courtroom. "Love you, too," some call back.

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Tags: shadow economy, black guerilla family

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