Man sentenced for helping fugitive City man gets two years for harboring murderer who escaped from Texas prison.

January 22, 1992|By Norris P. West

A man convicted of harboring a fugitive who was on the U.S. marshal's 15 most-wanted list was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Baltimore to two years in federal prison.

In a plea bargain with federal prosecutors, Freddie Artis, 32, of Seat Pleasant, pleaded guilty Oct. 28 to charges of harboring a fugitive and firearms violations.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Bonnie S. Greenberg asked Judge Frederic N. Smalkin to impose a stiff penalty under federal sentencing guidelines, saying Artis tried to obstruct justice by contacting the fugitive's girlfriend and asking her not to tell authorities she knew him.

However, Judge Smalkin said the contact did not affect the outcome of the case, and he accepted Ms. Greenberg's request that Artis not be allowed to contact the woman during his two-year prison term and the subsequent three-year probation period.

Artis had pleaded guilty to harboring fugitive Michael Antonio Lucas, a convicted murderer who escaped from a Texas prison in November 1990.

Lucas, who pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to being a felon in possession of a firearm on Oct. 28, was scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Smalkin on Jan. 30.

However, he filed a motion yesterday to withdraw his guilty plea.

Lucas and an associate, Willie Smith, were convicted in January 1985 of first-degree murder for stabbing Thomas Morris to death in Washington, D.C., in a case of mistaken identity.

Police say Smith had been robbed a week earlier and believed that Mr. Morris was involved in the robbery.

Lucas was serving a sentence of 20 years to life in a Texas prison for the murder when he and three other inmates used wire cutters to escape from the prison's recreation area.

Lucas originally was imprisoned at the Lorton Correctional facility in Virginia.

In June 1990, he was transferred to the Frio County Jail in Pearsall, Texas, a contract facility used to house District of Columbia prisoners.

While he was incarcerated at Lorton, Lucas met Artis, also an inmate there. Artis had three convictions, including one in 1979 for armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and receiving stolen property.

On Aug. 12, they were arrested in a van at Milton and Monument streets in East Baltimore by a special task force of the marshal's office. The task force was acting on a tip from a viewer of the television program "America's Most Wanted," which had featured a segment on Lucas a month earlier.

The men had two semiautomatic weapons, including a Cobra Mac-11 in the back of the van, and two bulletproof vests, Ms. Greenberg said.

Earlier that day, Artis had bailed Lucas out of Baltimore County Detention Center after Lucas was arrested for a purse-snatching. Lucas has given an alias to authorities.

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