BGF Leader Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison for Participating in a Racketeering Conspiracy
Co-Defendant Also Pleads Guilty to Racketeering Conspiracy
Baltimore, Maryland - U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles, Jr. sentenced, Eric Brown, a/k/a E and EB, age 42, of Baltimore, late yesterday to 12 years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for a conspiracy to conduct and participate in the activities of the Black Guerilla Family (BGF), a racketeering enterprise. Brown pleaded guilty on April 27.
Another co-defendant, James Harried, a/k/a Smiley, age 48, of Essex, Maryland, pleaded guilty on August 17, 2011, to his participation in the BGF racketeering conspiracy.
The sentence and guilty plea were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Ava Cooper-Davis of the Drug Enforcement Administration - Washington Field Division; Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III; Baltimore City State’s Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein; and Secretary Gary D. Maynard of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.
“The sentence Mr. Brown received today should send a strong message to all individuals who may think about becoming a gang member like Mr. Brown,” stated Ava Cooper-Davis, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration. “Mr. Brown's prior leadership role with the BGF gang will mean nothing as he spends 12 years in federal prison. Mr. Brown will now be reduced in rank as the result of many law enforcement agencies and prosecutors who worked tirelessly in this investigation,” stated Cooper-Davis.
According to their plea agreements, BGF is a nationwide gang operating in prison facilities and major cities throughout the United States. Founded in California in the 1960s and introduced into the Maryland correctional system in the mid 1990s, BGF in Maryland is increasingly active on the streets of Baltimore City, as well as in various prison facilities in Maryland.
BGF conducts its affairs through a pattern of criminal activity, including: narcotics trafficking, robbery; extortion; bribery; retaliation against a witness or informant; money laundering; and commercial robbery. BGF members arrange to have drugs, tobacco, cell phones, food and other contraband smuggled into Maryland prison facilities, sometimes recruiting and paying employees of prison facilities, including corrections officers, to assist BGF and its members in the smuggling of contraband, the collection of intelligence and in the concealment of BGF's criminal activities. BGF members use violence and threats of violence to coerce incarcerated persons to pay protection money to BGF, to enforce the BGF code of conduct, and to increase their control of the Baltimore City drug trade and the underground "prison economy" in Maryland correctional facilities.
According to his plea agreement, from 2006 through June 2010, Brown, was a leader of BGF, enforcing discipline in the gang and directing and participating in the drug trafficking activities of the gang. Harried sold heroin for his own benefit and for the enrichment of BGF. It was forseeable that as members of the conspiracy, Brown and Harried possessed with intent to distribute between 700 grams and one kilogram of heroin.
Specifically, while Brown was incarcerated, he extorted a fellow inmate for protection from violence at the hands of BGF members and assaulted another inmate who failed to make timely extortion payments to BGF. Brown and co-defendant Ray Olivis transferred some of the proceeds of BGF’s illegal activities, including drug trafficking and extortion, into prepaid debit card accounts. In addition, Brown arranged for contraband to be smuggled into correctional facilities through the use of couriers and corrections employees. Co-defendant Rainbow Williams delivered contraband, including narcotics, to corrections officers to be smuggled into correctional facilities, sometimes paying the officer for smuggling the contraband into prison. Williams even attempted to smuggle contraband into a Maryland correctional facility via a pair of tennis shoes, but he was discovered by corrections officials.
During an intercepted telephone conversation on March 19, 2010, Harried was overheard by law enforcement discussing the collection of dues from fellow BGF members in order to post the bail for an incarcerated member. These dues were paid, at least in part, with the proceeds of BGF drug trafficking. At times during the conspiracy Harried also attended meetings of the high ranking members of BGF, where racketeering activities, including drug trafficking, money laundering, commercial robberies and retaliation against rival gang members and BGF member who broke protocol, were discussed. Harried was often consulted during the trials of BGF member accused by other members of breaking BGF protocol.
James Harried faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Judge Quarles has scheduled his sentencing for November 22, 2011 at 1:00 p.m. Harried remains detained.
Ray Olivis, a/k/a Ronnie Hargrove, Uncle Ray, Unc and Ray Ray, age 57; and Rainbow Williams, age 32, both of Baltimore, pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy and face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Judge Quarles has scheduled sentencing for Rainbow Williams on August 30, 2011 at 1:00 p.m. and Ray Olivis on December 8, 2011 at 9:30 a.m.
Mr. Rosenstein praised the DEA; Baltimore City Police Department; Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office; and the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services for their work in this investigation and prosecution; as well as the Baltimore County Police Department; the U.S. Marshals Service; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Washington D.C. Field Office, for their assistance.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked Baltimore City Assistant State’s Attorneys Antonio Gioia, Miabeth Marosy and Rebecca Cox, for their work in the investigation and prosecution, and Assistant United States Attorneys James T. Wallner and Clinton J. Fuchs, who are prosecuting this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case.