FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT
AUSA VICKIE E. LEDUC or
MARCIA MURPHY at 410-209-4885
JUNE 26, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Prince George’s County EXILE Partners Announce Results for 2006
First Year of Program Shows Significant Increase in Number of Prosecutions, Lengthy Prison Terms and Charges Against the Most Violent Offenders
Greenbelt, Maryland - Leaders of the local, state and federal agency partners that have joined together to implement the Prince George’s County EXILE strategy held their first annual meeting today to discuss the progress of the program and plans for the future, the United States Attorney’s Office announced.
“Reducing violent crime in Prince George’s County will require a lengthy and coordinated effort by federal, state and local officials,” said United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “The EXILE program involves several initiatives that focus on two of the leading causes of gun violence: too many armed criminals roaming the streets when they should be in jail, and too little fear of the criminal justice system.”
The first year of the Prince George’s County EXILE program has been marked by a significant increase in the number of federal firearms prosecutions, lengthy federal and state prison sentences for defendants prosecuted for firearms-related offenses, and successful efforts to take some of Prince George’s County’s most violent repeat offenders off the streets.
In addition, the Prince George’s County Exile program launched an extensive outreach and media campaign including billboards, radio public service announcements, and posters advertising lengthy federal sentences received by particular defendants.
U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said, “The success of Prince George’s County EXILE depends on the tremendous effort, energy, and dedication of countless police officers, agents, prosecutors, and other law enforcement professionals. We appreciate the outstanding work of these public servants who are working tirelessly to keep Prince George’s County safe.”
Gregory K. Gant, Special Agent in Charge of the Baltimore Field Office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives stated, “We are all committed to making the streets of Prince George’s County safer for our citizens and our children, and with programs like Project EXILE, which emphasizes a collective law enforcement effort, we believe we can accomplish this mission.”
“Together, we are taking gun-carrying thugs off our streets. Hard time for gun crime is not just a slogan but a reality. By emphasizing federal, state and local cooperation we are letting violent offenders know that carrying guns has serious consequences. We will continue to work hard with our federal partners to ensure longer, stronger and stiffer sentences for gun toting criminals,” said Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn F. Ivey.
Judith Sachwald, Director, Maryland Division of Parole and Probation, added, "We have many repeat violent offenders under supervision in Maryland; having specially trained parole and probation agents work with local and federal authorities is imperative to stopping individuals who continue to engage in violent and criminal behavior."
Prince George’s County EXILE is a unified and comprehensive strategy to combat gun crime that combines law enforcement efforts, community action and revitalization, and public awareness. The strategy is based on a partnership among local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, with the assistance of community activists, educators, and civic and faith-based organizations. The written strategy is available on the internet at: http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/md/Exile/files/PGExile%20FINAL3%2021%2006.pdf.
Under Prince George’s County EXILE, the United States Attorney’s Office (USAO) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) are working with other federal agencies to support the mission of our local prosecutors and police by investigating and prosecuting as many significant firearms cases as possible and by using the prospect of federal prosecution to encourage defendants to take prompt guilty pleas to firearms charges in state court.
Under EXILE, in appropriate cases, once the USAO has determined that a case is ready to be indicted, the USAO sends a letter to the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office (SAO) advising that the case will proceed federally if the defendant has not pled guilty in state court to the mandatory five-year penalty under state law by a specified deadline. The letter – known as a “Federal Letter of Intent to Prosecute,” or “FLIP” letter – is then shared with the defendant and defense counsel. If the defendant does not plead guilty by the deadline, the defendant is promptly transferred to federal court to face federal prosecution.
A total of 20 FLIP letters were sent to state prosecutors in 2006. Of the 20 defendants who received FLIP letters, 11 defendants – or 55% – pled guilty to state charges carrying at least the mandatory five-year sentence. Eight defendants rejected the state pleas and were indicted in federal court. One defendant is a fugitive.
In 2006, USAO filed 51 indictments and two criminal complaints charging 53 defendants. These cases were primarily investigated by the ATF and the Prince George’s County Police Department (PGPD), but several cases were brought by the DEA and FBI as well. The number of federal charges represents a 42% increase in the number of indictments and an 18% increase in the number of defendants charged federally with similar offenses in 2005.
As noted above, 11 of the total of 20 FLIP letters sent have been resolved through state pleas. Combined with the 51 federal charges and 53 defendants in Prince George’s County firearms cases, the USAO has handled a total of 62 Prince George’s County firearms cases involving 64 defendants during 2006. This represents a 72% increase in the number of cases handled and a 42% increase in the number of defendants charged over 2005.
Including the firearms cases investigated by agencies other than ATF and PGPD, the total number of indictments brought against armed criminals in the U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern Division was 55, charging a total of 57 defendants. This represents a 53% increase in the number of cases handled and a 27% increase in the number of defendants over 2005.Including the 11 cases resolved by FLIP letters, the USAO handled a total of 66 cases involving 68 armed criminals in the Southern Division during 2006. This represents an 83% increase in the number of cases handled and a 51% increase in the number of defendants over 2005.
In 2007 to date, USAO filed 25 indictments charging 30 defendants.
Violent Repeat Offenders
Under Prince George’s County EXILE’s Violent Repeat Offender (VRO) initiative, a team composed of representatives of the Division of Parole and Probation of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, the United States Probation Office, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the High Intensity Drug-Trafficking Area Task Force (HIDTA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), ATF, PGPD, the SAO, and the USAO meet regularly to identify some of the most violent individuals in the area – individuals who belong to violent gangs or organizations operating in Prince George’s County and individuals who have been charged with, or have been suspects in, shootings and murders. Some of these individuals have pending state gun, drug or violent crime cases. Many are in violation of their parole or probation. Others have no pending charges but have lengthy and disturbing criminal histories. The members of the Violent Repeat Offender team determine the most effective strategy for arresting and detaining each individual – including violations of parole or probation, aggressive prosecution of pending state or federal charges, or proactive investigations – and monitoring the status of the pending case or investigation of each such individual.
16 VROs were identified in 2006. Of those, six have been detained or are facing pending charges, as follows:
• one was detained pursuant to revocation of parole or probation, and has
since been charged federally;
• one is detained pending a murder prosecution in state court; and
• four have been detained based on newly filed federal charges.
The remaining VROs are the subjects of ongoing federal investigations. A total of 10 VROs are now actively being investigated, with others to be pursued in the future.
During 2006, many defendants were sentenced to lengthy prison terms for firearms possession or firearms-related offenses in Prince George’s County and have been sent to, or are awaiting designation to, federal prison facilities outside of Maryland to serve their sentences. The following are just some examples of those defendants (press releases relating to each case can be found on the USAO website at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/md):
|Don Thomas, Jr.
19 years 7 months
Once a week throughout 2006, prosecutors from the USAO provide legal instruction during the PGPD’s weekly inservice training for all PGPD officers. In addition, the USAO will create a videotape to be used for all incoming police cadets.
A key component of Prince George’s County EXILE is an aggressive media/public relations campaign to send a message to criminals and to the broader community that any felon who carries a gun in Prince George’s County is going to jail – that criminals will do hard time for gun crime. The campaign is designed to alert offenders to the crackdown on gun crime and to energize the community to support law enforcement efforts and, in particular, their local police. During 2006, the campaign utilized radio ads and billboards to get the EXILE message to the public. EXILE television ads debuted in early 2007.
In 2007, Prince George’s County EXILE partners hope to expand the outreach campaign, including outreach to schools and faith-based organizations and call-ins directed to identified felons recently released from prison.
Prince George’s County EXILE is a joint effort by the SAO, PGPD, the Maryland Division of Parole and Probation, the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention, the United States Marshals Service, ATF, DEA, HIDTA, FBI, ICE and the USAO.