Defendants' lawyers query use of wiretap in drug case

July 19, 1992|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

A detective investigating an alleged Joppa drug ring with ties to Florida and New York said police had no alternative but to use a telephone wiretap to get evidence of the group's suspected cocaine deals.

But attorneys representing 16 defendants charged after the eight-month investigation contended that the evidence provided by the wiretap should be thrown out.

Twelve defense attorneys and two prosecutors argued last week during a Harford Circuit Court hearing whether the evidence should be withheld when the defendants go to trial. Proceedings will resume in several weeks.

Defense attorneys asserted that police did not exhaust other investigative methods, such as surveillance and informants, before seeking a court-ordered wiretap.

"All of these investigative means and ways were discussed," said Deputy Daniel Galbraith, an investigator with the county Joint Narcotics Task Force. "They in themselves would not meet the goals and objectives we set out."

Investigators used the wiretap to get evidence on the alleged ring's leaders and co-conspirators, Mr. Galbraith said.

Police ruled out other investigative options, such as using police search dogs, following suspects and issuing search-and-seizure warrants, the deputy said.

Investigators could not use informants to set up drug deals with the suspects because the informants used in the case feared reprisals and would not cooperate, Mr. Galbraith said.

The investigation started last summer with an anonymous tip that the Velez family was selling drugs at its home in the 1800 block of Shirley Ave. in Joppa, Mr. Galbraith said.

In November, Circuit Judge William O. Carr signed an order permitting investigators to wiretap two telephone lines at the house, the deputy said. The order was renewed in December.

About 2,700 telephone calls to and from the Joppa home between November and January were recorded by investigators 167 cassette tapes, to be used as evidence, court records say.

Isabel Velez, 51, and her 22-year-old son, Luis A. Velez, each face drug-kingpin charges, an offense that carries a mandatory prison sentence of 25 years.

They also have been charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, conspiracy to distribute cocaine in a school zone, conspiracy to import cocaine, conspiracy, common nuisance and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.

Rafael A. Velez, 19, has been charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, conspiracy to distribute cocaine in a school zone, conspiracy to import cocaine, conspiracy, common nuisance and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.

Rosemarie Velez Cooper, 24, has been charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, conspiracy to distribute cocaine in a school zone, conspiracy to import cocaine, conspiracy, using minors to distribute cocaine, common nuisance and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.

Ricardo Devale Ortiz, 30, also of the 1800 block of Shirley Ave., has been charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, possession with intent to distribute cocaine, distribution of cocaine, possession of cocaine and conspiracy.

Ms. Cooper and Mr. Ortiz were charged after they allegedly sold about 2 ounces of cocaine to an undercover state trooper for $2,500 on Jan. 10, court records say.

In addition, 4 ounces of cocaine, worth about $4,000, were seized from the Velez home during a Jan. 10 raid, records say.

Other defendants are:

* Bobby Ray Cornett, 30, of the 4300 block of Norrisville Road, White Hall, charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, conspiracy and common nuisance.

* Mary Catherine Cornett, 28, of the 4300 block of Norrisville Road, White Hall, charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, conspiracy and common nuisance.

* Ramon Manuel Delgado, 30, of the 1600 block of Candlewood Court, Edgewood, charged with conspiracy and conspiracy to distribute cocaine.

* William George Fender, 22, of the 600 block of Crossgate Ave., Edgewood, charged with conspiracy and conspiracy to distribute cocaine.

* Earl Edward Goodfellow, 26, of the 300 block of Bynum Road, Forest Hill, charged with conspiracy, conspiracy to distribute cocaine and common nuisance.

* --Sharon Lamoon, 33, of Baltimore, charged with conspiracy, conspiracy to distribute cocaine and using minors to distribute cocaine.

* Richard Pena, 21, of the unit block of Krouse Court, Aberdeen, charged with conspiracy and conspiracy to distribute cocaine.

* Ruben Pena, 24, of the unit block of Krouse Court, Aberdeen, charged with conspiracy and conspiracy to distribute cocaine.

* Jimmy Roberts, 35, 400 block of Sedgemore Court, Edgewood, charged with conspiracy and conspiracy to distribute cocaine.

* Judy Rutherford, 33, of the 800 block of Windstream Way, Edgewood, charged with conspiracy, common nuisance, using minors to distribute cocaine and conspiracy to distribute cocaine.

* Martin Luther Willis, 42, of the 1400 block of Perrywood Drive, Perryman, charged with conspiracy, common nuisance and conspiracy to distribute cocaine.

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