Linwood R. "Rudy" Williams told the jury at his drug trial last year that he made big money gambling in Atlantic City, N.J., and "hustling" stolen furs and jewelry out of the trunk of his Maserati sports car.
But his story crumbled when state prosecutor Howard B. Gersh, a special federal prosecutor in the case, plunked a sheaf of letters from Atlantic City casinos in front of him. The letters said Williams wasn't a big-time gambler; casino officials had no idea who he was.
Late yesterday, Williams, who operated what prosecutors described as one of the most violent heroin organizations in Baltimore history, was sentenced to life imprisonment plus 130 years, all without parole, for federal convictions on conspiracy and seven drug-related charges.
"If I've ever seen a case that requires -- and justifies -- a life sentence, this was it," said Senior Judge Frank A. Kaufman, as he imposed the terms on Williams in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Katharine J. Armentrout, who led a three-lawyer trial team that included Gersh and Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea L. Smith, asked Kaufman to impose the life term.
She said Williams "has forfeited the right to remain a member of this society through his vicious and violent behavior."
"He was vicious in the drugs that he distributed, violent in the methods he used and he was totally corrupt," Armentrout said. "There is no hope that he can be rehabilitated.
"No person associated with this case can tell you they've seen anyone with more viciousness, more violence and less remorse than this defendant," she said. "The appropriate sentence is life without parole."
Defense attorney William B. Purpura asked Kaufman to sentence Williams only for the offenses on which he was convicted.
But the judge said he was bound by federal sentencing guidelines to consider Williams' extensive criminal history in sentencing him as a career criminal.
Kaufman sentenced Williams to a life term for conspiracy, six consecutive 20-year terms on drug and money-laundering counts and a consecutive 10-year term on a weapons count, all the maximum terms.
And, in a quirk required by the guidelines, Kaufman imposed five years of supervised release on Williams, should he ever get out of prison.
Williams, in prepared remarks read by co-defense counsel Luther West, called Kaufman "Your Lordship of this Great Star Chamber of Injustice," claimed that he did not receive a fair trial and accused the government of persecuting him with "trickery" and concocted evidence.
"You can put my body in jail, but you can't put my mind in jail," Williams said as he rose and faced Kaufman. "That's all right, I forgive you all."
Armentrout also argued that Williams was responsible for the drug-related deaths of his brother, co-defendant Jackie Williams, heroin addict who died of acquired immune deficiency syndrome before he could be brought to trial last year, and co-defendant Gerald Gray, who died of a drug overdose in jail.
But Kaufman rejected those contentions, saying there was no evidence they died from drugs that Linwood Williams supplied.
Evidence at Williams' $2 million, 66-day trial last year showed that he and his co-defendants sold 140 pounds of heroin in Baltimore from 1986 to 1990. The organization was fed by drug sources in New York, Washington, Nigeria, Brazil and Canada.
Armentrout said the gang "used violence day to day" to enforce Williams' lock on drug trafficking.
Prosecutors were not allowed to mention to the trial jury the gang's alleged record of violence, including several suspected murders.
But that violence and Williams' alleged record of witness intimidation were such strong aspects of the case that Kaufman put jurors under guard during the trial and ordered them identified only by numbers.
Kaufman yesterday sentenced Sean A. Wilson, a bodyguard to Linwood Williams' nephew, Namond Earl Williams, to 15 years and eight months in federal prison without parole for his role in the heroin conspiracy. Another Namond Williams bodyguard, Carvel L. Jones, was sentenced today to 15 years and eight months in prison without parole.
Namond Williams, who operated his own Linwood Williams-supplied heroin distribution network, is to be sentenced Monday. He faces a no-parole prison term of 30 years to life. Prosecutors have requested at least a 50-year sentence for him.
U.S. Attorney Richard D. Bennett said the investigation, indictment, trial, conviction and sentencing of Williams and his gang "stands as a model of joint criminal law enforcement."
He credited Armentrout, Gersh and Smith for their work on the case.
The Williams case, which began in 1988, included work by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Baltimore police, the Internal Revenue Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the U.S. Marshal Service and the Baltimore state's attorney's office.
"This case signals to the Baltimore metropolitan community that the federal government and Baltimore authorities stand united in the continuous fight against the cancer of drug trafficking," Bennett said.