News

Two Baltimore Men Indicted for Murdering a Witness in A Bank Fraud Conspiracy


Rules Require Prosecutors to Rely on Discretion of Criminal Defense Attorneys

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 6, 2011

Baltimore, Maryland - A federal grand jury has indicted Tavon Dameon Davis, age 24, of and Bruce Eric Byrd, age 26, both of Baltimore, today for conspiracy to commit and committing murder for hire; conspiracy to murder and murdering a witness; use and discharge of a gun resulting in death; and conspiracy to commit bank fraud, in connection with the murder of a witness in a federal bank fraud investigation.

The indictment alleges that 19-year-old Isaiah Cortez Callaway was murdered in Baltimore on April 11, 2011, a few days after Callaway’s own attorney called Davis and alerted him that federal officials wanted to interview Callaway about a fraud scheme.

The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Mark R. Chait of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives - Baltimore Field Division; Postal Inspector in Charge Daniel S. Cortez of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service - Washington Division; Chief James W. Johnson of the Baltimore County Police Department; and Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III.

“When we follow the rules and disclose to private lawyers that someone may be cooperating with law enforcement, we rely on them as officers of the court to keep the information from getting into the wrong hands,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “This is the second recent case in which an inappropriate disclosure by a private attorney allegedly led to the murder of a federal witness.”

The six count indictment alleges that from May 2009, through November 9, 2011, Davis, Byrd and others were involved in a scheme to steal money orders and checks from rent deposit boxes at apartment complexes, then deposit the funds into fraudulent business savings, checking and payroll accounts at banks. The conspirators then allegedly withdrew the deposited funds through ATMs and other means before the banks discovered that the money orders and checks deposited into the fraudulent accounts were stolen. The indictment alleges that over the course of the conspiracy Davis directed the deposit of approximately $513,563 in stolen checks and money orders.

According to the indictment, from May 2009, until April 2011, Isaiah Cortez Callaway participated in the bank fraud scheme at Davis’ direction. The indictment alleges that, Davis directed Callaway to open fraudulent accounts at banks and deposit the stolen money orders and checks into those accounts; and to withdraw cash proceeds from the fraudulent bank accounts. Callaway was also directed to recruit and pay individuals to open the fraudulent business accounts and to provide those individuals with documentation to present to the banks in support of the fraudulent accounts. On December 29, 2010, Callaway was arrested by Baltimore County Police while he was in the process of directing two individuals to open fraudulent business accounts and was charged with possession of counterfeit documents and theft. Following his arrest, Callaway was interviewed by Baltimore County Police detectives, admitted his participation in the bank fraud scheme and told detectives that he was directed in the scheme by another individual who had recruited and paid him.

According to the indictment, Davis learned of Callaway’s arrest, met with him upon his pre-trial release, and in January 2011, referred him to a Baltimore County attorney to represent Callaway in connection with Baltimore County fraud charges. In March 2011, a U.S. Postal Inspector contacted Callaway’s attorney and informed him that federal law enforcement officers were interested in interviewing Callaway about the bank fraud scheme. On April 5, 2011, an Assistant U.S. Attorney advised Callaway’s attorney that federal law enforcement officers wished to interview Callaway in order to obtain information about the fraud scheme, including the identity of other participants. The indictment alleges that Callaway’s attorney then called Davis and told him that federal law enforcement was seeking to interview Callaway.

The indictment charges that from December 29, 2010 through April 11, 2011, Davis and Byrd participated in a conspiracy to commit the murder for hire of Isaiah Cortez Callaway, meeting several times to discuss Callaway’s murder, with Byrd agreeing to commit the murder. Between April 5 and April 11, 2011, Davis exchanged numerous calls with Byrd to arrange the murder and called Callaway 68 times during that period. In the early morning hours of April 11, 2011, Davis called Callaway and directed him to the 1700 block of Crystal Avenue in Baltimore, purportedly for a meeting. The indictment alleges that Byrd used a 10mm semi-automatic handgun to kill Callaway as he sat in the driver’s seat of a car parked in the 1700 block of Crystal Avenue. According to the indictment, later that day, Davis paid Byrd $2,000 for Callaway’s murder.

Davis and Byrd face a maximum sentence of life in prison. No court appearance is currently scheduled. The defendants are detained.

In an unrelated case, Antonio Hall was sentenced on November 16, 2011, to serve life in federal prison for the 2009 murder of Kareem Kelly Guest. Hall had learned about Guest’s cooperation after a defense attorney distributed copies of an FBI report. That FBI report was given to the lawyer to use in defending his client in a pending federal criminal case, pursuant to a written agreement that it would not be further distributed.

An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the ATF, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Baltimore County Police Department and the Baltimore City Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney John F. Purcell, who is prosecuting the case.


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