Baltimore Exile Partners Announce Continued Significant Progress Against Violent Repeat Offenders
Numerous Violent Repeat Offenders from Persistent Violent Crime Areas Detained on State or Federal Charges in the Past 6 Months;
Total Federal Violent Crime Indictments Continue to Increase
Baltimore, Maryland - Leaders of the local, state and federal agency partners that are together implementing the Baltimore EXILE strategy held a meeting today to discuss the progress of the program and plans for the future.
“Criminals in Baltimore are getting the message that gun crime equals jail time,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “This year, the Baltimore EXILE partners are working closely with the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services and expanding our efforts to combat violent gangs and violent repeat offenders. We need to send armed criminals to jail, prevent them from communicating with gang members who are still on the streets, and deter other people from following in their footsteps.”
“Our team is working very hard to improve the strategies used to prosecute violent, repeat offenders,” said State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy. “Today we heard about good results and successes using cross-designated prosecutors working simultaneously in both the state and federal courts to obtain the best possible prosecution, and prosecutors leveraging consecutive state time to federal sentences as a result of a violation of probation.”
“I am so proud of the hard work and success that ATF Agents and task force officers bring to Baltimore EXILE, and what they continue to achieve for the residents of Baltimore,” says ATF Special Agent in Charge Theresa R. Stoop. “Without their experience, and the cooperation of our federal, state, and local partners, we would not see the impressive statistics that we are recognizing today. Baltimore EXILE starts with the men and women on the street.”
“Through unprecedented collaboration on public safety issues throughout all levels of government and the criminal justice system, Maryland continues to put families first and improve the quality of life in our state,” said Gary D. Maynard, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. “I am grateful our department continues to be a partner in this process. The entire Exile team should be commended for their success in this partnership.”
Baltimore EXILE is a unified and comprehensive strategy to combat gun crime initiated in 2006 by the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office, the Baltimore Police Department, the Maryland Division of Parole and Probation, the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Marshals Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The program combines law enforcement efforts, community action and revitalization, and public awareness. Details are available on the internet at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/md/Exile/index.html.
In 2008, 206 Baltimore EXILE defendants were charged with federal crimes. Over 60% of the cases indicted under the EXILE program during that period were based on referrals from the State's Attorney's FIVE Unit. Many of the cases involved local gun arrests that resulted in lengthy federal prison sentences. The number of violent offenders charged in federal court has increased steadily in each year of the EXILE program’s existence and represents a 67% increase over the number of such offenders prosecuted prior to the program’s inception.
In the first three months of 2009, 27 more Baltimore EXILE defendants have been prosecuted for federal crimes, more than a third of which were based on referrals from the FIVE Unit.
In addition to the federal indictments, a total of 30 Federal Letters of Intent to Prosecute, known as “FLIP letters,” have been utilized to date in 2008. FLIP letters are written by federal prosecutors to notify certain defendants with pending state gun charges that the evidence in their cases has been reviewed by ATF agents and federal prosecutors and that federal charges will be filed if their cases are not resolved in state court. Defendants who reject the state pleas are indicted in federal court. Three of the FLIP letter cases are still pending; of the remaining 27 FLIP letters sent, 24 – or more than 88% – have resulted in guilty pleas in state court. This represents the highest percentage of FLIP letter pleas since the EXILE program began. Over 100 FLIP letters have been sent to date during the first three years of EXILE in Baltimore.
Combined with the 206 defendants charged federally in Baltimore EXILE cases, federal prosecutors handled a total of 230 violent crime defendants during 2008.
Through the city's GunStat program, the Exile partners track every gun arrest in Baltimore. The information developed and shared through GunStat helps ensure that all levels of law enforcement - police, federal agencies, prosecutors, and probation officers - handle firearms cases with the highest priority. GunStat also helps the Exile partners identify cases for possible federal prosecution.
Violent Repeat Offenders
Under Baltimore 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), United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), ATF, BPD, the SAO, and the USAO meet regularly to identify some of the most violent individuals in the city – individuals who belong to violent gangs or organizations operating in Baltimore 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 criminal histories. The members of the Violent Repeat Offender team determine the most effective strategy for arresting and detaining each individual or gang – including violations of parole or probation, aggressive prosecution of pending state or federal charges, or proactive investigations – and monitor the status of the pending case or investigation of each such individual or group.
Approximately 61 VROs have been identified and pursued since the city-wide VRO program began in early 2006. Of those, 48 have been convicted in state court or detained or convicted in federal court in cases charging not only these VROs but also nearly 120 other co-defendants. The VROs have been taken off the streets through a combination of proactive federal investigations and prosecutions, federal adoption of state cases, state prosecutions, and parole or probation violations. Other VROs are the subjects of ongoing investigations.
In February 2008, in addition to the city-wide VRO program in Baltimore, the VRO team developed violent offender lists for three areas of the city marked by persistent violent crime – the Eastern District, Western District and the Park Heights area of Northwest Baltimore. The Baltimore Police Department, with assistance from federal partners, formed squads in each of those three areas dedicated to pursuing the violent offenders from those areas. In just the past year, nearly 60 violent offenders from these three areas have been detained on state or federal charges.
The Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office Collateral Division prosecutes
defendants who have violated their probation, to get those repeat offenders off the streets. The Collateral Division has aggressively pursued violent repeat offenders, holding them accountable for their criminal activity by prosecuting violations of probation on previous state convictions, often obtaining sentences of five years or more. Just since October 2008, the Collateral Division has closed 20 cases that involve a federal prosecution followed by a state violation of parole or probation. Of those 20 cases, 17 defendants received prison time, and six received consecutive sentences. There are 39 pending federal prosecutions with a corresponding state prosecution for a violation of parole or probation.
For example, Walter Alston was convicted of conspiracy to distribute cocaine in 2006 and was sentenced to 12 years, with all but five months suspended, and was placed on three years probation. Alston was released from incarceration in January 2007. Alston was arrested eight months later, in September 2007, and was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. Alston was convicted of that charge in federal court and was sentenced to 16 years in federal prison. The Collateral Division pursued a violation of probation. Alston was convicted of that violation and was sentenced to 11 years and seven months, consecutive to the federal sentence, resulting in a total sentence of 27 years in prison. Linwood Buckson, who was identified as a violent repeat offender based on his violent criminal history, was convicted of car theft in 2007 and was sentenced to nine years in prison, all of it suspended. In February 2009, while on probation, Buckson was convicted of car theft and second degree assault and was sentenced to three years in prison. The Collateral Division then pursued a violation of probation, for which Buckson received a consecutive sentence of nine years in prison.
Outreach and Media
The United States Attorney's Office and the Baltimore City School System are continuing to expand upon their partnership to minimize the involvement of youth in gangs and violence. During the spring of 2008, the USAO, Baltimore City State's Attorney's Office, Baltimore City Public Schools, WombWorks and other social service organizations partnered to deliver an innovative arts-based gang prevention and intervention program at Dunbar and Lemmel Middle Schools. The program, entitled "Increase The Peace Project", was designed to educate youth about the dangers of gangs, while providing social service support to youth who are actively seeking a way out of gang involvement. The success of these pilot programs have led the Baltimore City Schools to expand the program into seven additional schools for the 2008-2009 school year.
In addition to expanding prevention and intervention activity, the USAO is working with the Baltimore City schools to initiate the "Safe Passages Program." The Safe Passages Program initiative is a concerted effort to ensure that young people will be able to safely traverse to and from school without being harrassed by gangs or targeted for recruitment activities.
The Baltimore EXILE program continued an extensive media campaign including bus billboards, radio public service announcements, and posters advertising lengthy federal sentences received by particular defendants.
During 2008 and the first three months of 2009, many defendants were sentenced to lengthy terms of imprisonment for firearms possession or related drug offenses in Baltimore City and have been sent to, or are awaiting designation to, federal prison facilities outside of Maryland to serve their sentences. The following are just a few examples of those defendants (press releases relating to each case can be found on the USAO website at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/md):
Chi Antonio Ray
15 years and 5 months
19 years and 7 months
21 years and 10 months
At today’s meeting, Baltimore EXILE Achievement Awards were presented to 37 federal agents and police officers and five local and federal prosecutors whose outstanding work resulted in significant firearms or violent crime cases. Awards were also presented to two employees of the Maryland Department of Parole and Probation for their overall contributions to the EXILE program.