Dealer gets jail: 17 years

December 11, 1992|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,Staff Writer

Has Walter Louis Ingram's luck finally run out?

Ingram, 41, of Woodlawn, was sentenced to 17 1/2 years in prison without parole yesterday for conspiring to distribute cocaine.

But he's been in that position before, only to walk out of prison months later when his convictions were overturned.

In 1987, Ingram was convicted on drug conspiracy charges and sentenced to a 20-year jail term. That was overturned by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.

Twelve years earlier, his 40-year sentence on armed robbery and manslaughter convictions was reversed by the same court.

Three armed robbery convictions against him have been thrown out on appeal. He has beaten two murder charges and an assault charge.

"Mr. Ingram has been a very fortunate person in terms of appeals," U.S. Judge J. Frederick Motz remarked before imposing sentence.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea L. Smith believes that things will be different this time. "He's in federal court now," said Ms. Smith, who gained the 1987 conviction against Ingram when she was a city prosecutor. She had been frustrated by the reversal.

"Justice was done," she said about yesterday's sentence. "Justice was done."

Ingram was convicted Sept. 22 by a federal jury. He had been the target of a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency investigation that recorded 45,000 telephone conversations by him and alleged co-conspirators.

Judge Motz imposed the 17 1/2 -year sentence after finding that Ingram was part of a conspiracy to distribute at least 5 kilograms of cocaine.

Defense attorney William B. Purpura disagreed with that finding, saying that the evidence showed that Ingram was responsible for distributing less than 2 kilograms of heroin. He also said that his client worked independently in the drug trade and was not part of a conspiracy.

"What he was doing, at best, was running from one person he knows has cocaine to another person he knows has cocaine and trying to put a deal together as a middleman," Mr. Purpura said.

Before he sentenced Ingram, Judge Motz said that he needed to impose a stiffer sentence than the 10-year minimum. He said that with Ingram's success in having jury verdicts overturned, his official criminal record "seriously understates the severity of his criminal background."

The judge denied Ms. Smith's request for a 30-year sentence.

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