A federal prosecutor says he intends to use a former Miami police officer's sworn testimony to convict him on drug charges in a trial now under way in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew G.W. Norman told the trial jury yesterday that defendant John Gerald "Jerry" Gerant "has confessed that he was up to his neck in narcotics trafficking," and that confession should now serve to convict him.
Gerant, once was a trusted federal witness in a major drug case here, went on trial yesterday on cocaine conspiracy, continuing criminal enterprise and drug possession charges. The trial is expected to last three to four weeks.
Norman, in his opening statement to the jury, said Gerant was one of several managers of a conspiracy that funneled Colombian cocaine into South Florida for distribution in New York, Maryland, Virginia and the Carolinas.
Gerant, who supplied planes and pilots for the smuggling flights, was responsible for bringing nearly 400 kilograms of cocaine into this country in 1985 and 1986, the prosecutor said.
Norman said some of that cocaine, plus hundreds of pounds of marijuana, was sold in the Hagerstown area by an organization led by Marshall L. Jones and Steven A. Silvers, both of whom are serving federal prison terms.
According to the prosecution, Gerant was paid $6,000 per kilogram of cocaine that he and his associates allegedly smuggled into this country for Jones, Silvers, Anthony J. DeAntoni and Alan Raoul Rudd, all of whom were later convicted of federal drug charges.
In all, Norman said, Gerant received about $2.4 million for his role in the alleged conspiracy.
While he was running drugs, Gerant, who once lived in a $400,000 house in Boca Raton, Fla., and drove a Rolls Royce, reported income of less than $100,000 a year, the prosecutor said.
Norman said Gerant smuggled enough cocaine into the United States "to get every man, woman and child in Baltimore high as a kite, with a lot left over."
Gerant, whom the government granted immunity from prosecution several years ago, testified as a key prosecution witness at the trial of now-convicted cocaine kingpin Steven A. Silvers.
He testified in detail then about his involvement in the drug smuggling, and admitted his involvement in several international flights in which Silvers and others arranged cocaine shipments to the United States from Colombia.
Federal drug agents became suspicious of the truth of his story, however, after Rudd, a native Colombian, was arrested in this country.
Rudd, who is scheduled to testify against Gerant, allegedly told the government that Gerant was deeply involved in the cocaine smuggling as a ringleader and provided details that suggested Gerant had lied about the true extent of his smuggling activities.
Discrepancies between Gerant's testimony and Rudd's sworn statements to federal agents led prosecutors here to rescind Gerant's immunity agreement on grounds that he had reneged on his promise to tell the truth at Silvers' trial.
Senior Judge Alexander Harvey 2nd, who is presiding over Gerant's trial, last fall denied the defendant's motions to suppress Silvers' testimony.
That ruling opened the door for Norman to introduce Gerant's sworn admissions into evidence at this trial.
Defense attorney E. Thomas Maxwell Jr., in his opening statement yesterday, portrayed Gerant as a willing cooperator who gave federal authorities information "that got many, many people in trouble" on drug charges.
Maxwell told the jury that he and his client "agree with some of the things" the prosecution contends about Gerant, "but we disagree with the extent of Jerry Gerant's participation.
"We don't deny he was involved," Maxwell said. "But we're here because Jerry Gerant is charged with operating a continuing criminal enterprise.
"The people who smuggled the drugs are now going to testify that he was one of them," Maxwell said. "That just ain't so, and it just ain't fair."