A former Miami police officer has lost his bid for immunity from prosecution on major drug charges in Baltimore for his admitted smuggling of hundreds of kilograms of cocaine into the United States from Colombia in the mid-1980s.
John Gerald "Jerry" Gerant, the former officer, testified as a key government witness in a 1987 drug trial here and served as an informant and potential key witness in at least three other federal drug investigations.
Gerant sought dismissal of five drug charges filed against him in an indictment in U.S. District Court in Baltimore last April. He claimed he "substantially complied" with two separate immunity agreements by providing prosecutors with information that led to the convictions of at least eight drug defendants in Maryland and Florida tied to the Medellin cocaine cartel in Colombia.
Gerant said federal prosecutors here violated the immunity agreements, and his constitutional rights, by seeking his indictment on charges of operating a continuing criminal enterprise, and distributing and possessing cocaine and marijuana.
But Senior Judge Alexander Harvey II ruled yesterday that Gerant breached his immunity agreements despite his cooperation, and thus set himself up for prosecution.
Harvey denied Gerant's motion for dismissal of the indictment after hearing testimony from convicted drug distributors, drug agents, prosecutors and Gerant's former defense lawyer during three weeks of evidentiary hearings that ended last week.
The judge said he was convinced that Gerant repeatedly lied to federal drug agents and prosecutors, a federal grand jury and a trial jury in Baltimore to hide nearly $2.4 million in fees he was paid to smuggle drugs from Colombia into the United States.
Harvey described Gerant as "an unprincipled, opportunistic individual who led a life of crime and deception" for profit, and said Gerant's motive "was pure greed."
Gerant's testimony at the evidentiary hearings, Harvey said, "was unworthy of belief," and his breaches of immunity agreements "were substantial and material."
Richard D. Bennett, the U.S. attorney for Maryland, said yesterday that it is "rare" for federal prosecutors to try to throw out immunity agreements. But he termed the Gerant case "significant" because "it confirms the integrity of this office."
"We won't let people enter immunity agreements and fudge on their testimony," Bennett said. "We're not in the business of making deals with people just to nail the defendant at the time. We want the truth and nothing but the truth from them."
Gerant testified as a key government witness at the 1987 drug trial of Steven A. Silvers; his brother, Gary Silvers; and an associate, George Chaconas. Gerant told the jury he flew cocaine into the United States for Steven Silvers' Colombian-fed cocaine network in Florida.
Prosecutors Andrew G.W. Norman and Gregory Welsh became suspicious of Gerant's truthfulness when he told the jury that he had been an undercover FBI and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration informant since 1982.
Gerant also testified that he earned about $550,000 smuggling drugs into the United States. He said he was a pilot in Steven Silvers' drug operation, and was paid $6,000 per kilogram of cocaine that he delivered.
At the time, Gerant was living in a $350,000 home in Boca Raton, Fla., driving a new Rolls Royce and sharing two Mercedes-Benz sports cars with his wife.
The prosecutors' suspicions grew in mid-1987 after the Silvers brothers and Chaconas were convicted and sentenced.
The reason: They learned of a debriefing session federal drug agents had with Alan Raul Rudd, a Colombian who was caught by U.S. customs agents in the Caribbean on a boat containing 800 kilograms of cocaine.
Rudd, who has since pleaded guilty to federal drug charges in Florida and has been cooperating with prosecutors both here and there, told U.S. authorities Gerant was deeply involved in at least two major cocaine shipments from Colombia to the United States in 1985 as an organizer as well as a pilot.
Rudd said Gerant was paid at least $1.7 million in 1985 for smuggling cocaine into the United States, and got another $678,000 for rescuing 200 kilograms of the Medellin cartel's cocaine that allegedly had been seized by local authorities in the Bahamas, according to documents obtained by The Evening Sun.