Sign up for our newsletters   

Baltimore City Paper home.
Print Email

Feature

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

Page 2 of 8.   1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  

Take, for instance, Deitra Davenport. For 20 years, until her April arrest, the 37-year-old single mom worked as an administrator for a downtown Baltimore association management firm. Or 42-year-old Tyrone Dow, who with his brother has been running a car detailing shop on Lovegrove Street, behind Mount Vernon's Belvedere Hotel, ostensibly for nearly as long. Mortgage broker and reported law student Tomeka Harris, 33, boasts of having toy drives and safe-sex events at her Belair Road bar, Club 410. Baltimore City wastewater technician Calvin Renard Robinson, 53 years old and a long-ago ex-con, owns a clothing boutique next to Hollins Market. Even 30-year-old Rainbow Lee Williams, a recently released murderer, managed to get a job working as a mentor for at-risk public-school youngsters.

The trappings of legitimacy are most elaborate, though, with Eric Marcell Brown, the lead defendant in the BGF prison-gang indictment. By the time the DEA started tapping his illegal prison cell phones in February, the 40-year-old inmate and author, who was nearing the end of a lengthy sentence for drug dealing, had teamed up with his wife, Davenport, to start a non-profit, Harambee Jamaa, which aims to promote peace and community betterment. His The Black Book: Empowering Black Families and Communities came out last year and, until the BGF indictments shut down the publishing operation, it was distributed to inmates and available to the public online from Dee Dat Publishing, a company formed by Brown and Davenport. Court documents indicate that at least 700 to 900 copies sold, at $15 or $20 a pop. The book has numerous co-authors, including Rainbow Williams.

According to the BGF case record, though, they're all shams. Davenport, for instance, helps smuggle contraband into prison, prosecutors say, and serves as a "conduit of information" to support Brown's violent, drug-dealing, extortion, and smuggling racket. The Black Book and Harambee Jamaa, the government's version continues, are fronts for Brown's ill-gotten BGF gains, which, thanks to complicit correctional employees, are derived from operating both in prisons and on the outside. As a result, the government contends, Brown appears to have had access to cigars, good liquor and Champagne, and high-end meals in his prison cell.

The alleged scheme has Dow supplying drugs to 46-year-old Kevin Glasscho, the lead defendant in the BGF drug-dealing indictment and the only one of the co-defendants who is named in both indictments. Freeman and Robinson, meanwhile, are accused of selling Glasscho's drugs. Williams, the school mentor, is said to oversee the BGF's street-level dealings for Brown, including violence. Harris is described as Brown's girlfriend (even while her murder-convict husband, inmate Vernon Harris, is said by investigators to be helping Brown, too); among other things, she helps with the BGF finances. Most of the rest were inmates already, or accused drug dealers, smugglers, and armed robbers, except for the three corrections employees and one former employee who are accused as corrupt enablers, betraying public trust to help out in Brown and Glasscho's criminal world. Only one, 59-year-old Roosevelt Drummond, accused of robbery and drug-dealing, remains at large.

Looking legit allows underworld players to insinuate themselves into the shadow economy, where the black market, lawful enterprise, and politics come together. Sometimes, though, people look legit simply because they are legit, even though they're criminally charged. If that's the case with any of the BGF co-defendants, they're going to have their chance to prove it, just as the prosecutors will have theirs to prove otherwise. An adjudicated version of what happened with the BGF--be it at trial or in guilty pleas--eventually will substantiate who among them, if any, are "responsible adult[s]."

Page 2 of 8.   1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  

Related stories

Feature archives

More Stories

Blunderbusted (8/5/2010)
Two Maryland Men indicted in Arizona for illegal machine guns

The Big Hurt (8/4/2010)
Inmate claims gang-tied correctional officer ordered "hit"

Murder Ink (7/28/2010)

More from Van Smith

Blunderbusted (8/5/2010)
Two Maryland Men indicted in Arizona for illegal machine guns

The Big Hurt (8/4/2010)
Inmate claims gang-tied correctional officer ordered "hit"

Not a Snitch (7/22/2010)
Court filing mistakenly called murdered activist an informant, police say

Related by keywords

Working Overtime : Correctional officer indicted in prison-gang RICO conspiracy 7/14/2010

Health-Care Worker Accused of Being at "Epicenter" of Baltimore Crime as Shot-Caller for Black Guerrilla Family in Mobtown Beat 4/16/2010

DEA Raids in Prison-Gang Case Nab Another Suspect: James Bullock in The News Hole 4/14/2010

Guilty Plea for Theft and Lying in DEA Cop Case in The News Hole 4/14/2010

Inside Out : New Fed Charges Allege Prison Gang’s Street Operations Infiltrate Nonprofit Anti-Gang Efforts 4/14/2010

Washington Times Reports That Former State Department Official Kept Classified Documents in Public Storage Locker in Maryland in The News Hole 3/31/2010

in The News Hole 3/31/2010

in The News Hole 3/31/2010

in The News Hole 3/31/2010

in The News Hole 3/31/2010

Tags: shadow economy, black guerilla family

Comments powered by Disqus
Calendar
CP on Facebook
CP on Twitter