The sentencing of convicted heroin distributor Linwood "Rudy" Williams and three co-conspirators has been delayed until Nov. 22 so defense attorneys can challenge the government's suggested sentences.
Three of the seven defendants convicted in the Williams case last March -- Sevino Braxton, Harold D. Harrison and James Williamston -- were sentenced Friday as scheduled by Senior Judge Frank A. Kaufman in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.
The three were convicted of heroin possession, possession with intent to distribute it and/or firearms counts tied to Linwood Williams' four-year drug operation here.
The sentences were:
Braxton, 18 years and 9 months and a $50 fine; Harrison, 15 months and a $3,100 fine; and Williamston, 20 years, the maximum allowed by law.
But Kaufman delayed the scheduled Friday sentencings of Linwood Williams; his nephew, Namond Williams, who operated his own heroin distribution subnetwork; and Namond Williams' bodyguards, Carvel L. Jones Sr. and Sean A. Wilson, who were convicted with the leaders of drug conspiracy charges.
William B. Purpura, who requested the delay in a letter to the judge, said he and other defense lawyers want the extra time so they can pore over transcripts of the testimony of government trial witnesses in an attempt to challenge prosecution contentions about the amount of drugs that the ring distributed.
The amount of drugs is important because it dictates the length of potential prison terms to be imposed on the defendants under federal sentencing guidelines.
Prosecutors Katharine J. Armentrout, Andrea L. Smith, and Howard B. Gersh, an assistant Baltimore state's attorney serving as a special federal prosecutor in the Williams case, have asked Kaufman to impose prison terms of life without parole on Linwood and Namond Williams.
Armentrout said the government also will recommend no-parole prison terms of at least 10 years each for Jones and Wilson.
Purpura has contended in court papers that trial evidence showed Linwood Williams distributed only grams -- less than 4 ounces -- of heroin.
The prosecution contends that Williams and his sub-distributors sold 10 to 30 kilograms of raw heroin -- more than 60 kilograms of drugs after cutting for street sales -- in Baltimore between 1986 and 1990, when a federal drug task force smashed the gang.
Prosecutors also contend that Williams is due an enhanced sentence under federal guidelines because of the amount of the drugs he sold, his role as ringleader of the operation, his attempts to intimidate trial witnesses, his apparent lack of remorse and his use of weapons in the scheme.
"The essence of what they're trying to do is outrageous," Purpura said of the government's recommendations.
"They're trying to have the judge decide an issue that the jury decided in Rudy's favor" when the panel acquitted him of a "superkingpin" charge, Purpura said.
The superkingpin charge depended on allegations that Williams distributed far more heroin than is necessary to sustain a mandatory life-without-parole term under federal sentencing guidelines.
However, Williams still could be sentenced to life without parole if Kaufman accepts the sentencing enhancements prosecutors