Alleged kingpins go on trial Police erred, lawyers claim

April 01, 1993|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,Staff writer

Police and prosecutors are afraid for their jobs and don't want to admit that they made a mistake when they charged James M. Emory with being a drug kingpin, his lawyer claimed yesterday.

Police botched the case from the start, Peter S. O'Neill argued at the opening of his client's trial in what has been called the largest marijuana operation in county history.

"With all the press and hoopla about the case, they don't want to come back and say [James] Emory never should have been charged," he told the jury of nine women and three men.

Prosecutor Gerald K. Anders warned the jurors, who were selected after a day and a half of questioning, that some pieces of evidence may not seem incriminating by themselves.

"These are little pieces that are necessary to put together the final puzzle," he said. "People who are trying to hide their activities are going to do mundane things."

Mr. Emory, 47, his brother, Roger Emory, 43, their wives and six others were arrested last October in a series of early morning raids. Police found 400 pounds of marijuana in storage lockers in Glen Burnie.

Although they found no drugs at James Emory's house in the 1200 block of Villa Isle Court, they did find more than $10,000 in a briefcase under the bed and 3.2 grams of marijuana and keys to the storage lockers inside his 1992 Ford Explorer.

The charges against Linda D. Emory, Roger Emory's wife, and Patricia Emory, James Emory's wife, were later dropped.

During the arguments, the Emory brothers sat silently as they watched expressions on jurors' faces while their lawyers described Roger's modest lifestyle and James' community involvement as a boys soccer coach.

Timothy Murnane, Roger's lawyer, said his client owns a $75,000 house he bought from his mother. He pays a monthly mortgage && of $500, and he charges his daughter rent.

"Drug kingpins charge their daughters rent?" Mr. Murnane asked incredulously.

Mr. O'Neill did not dispute that police found marijuana in James Emory's Explorer, but insisted that his client "is humiliated by it."

"He wishes he didn't have that and wishes that he didn't use marijuana occasionally," Mr. O'Neill said. "But he is not a drug kingpin as the state would like you to believe."

Drug kingpins do not need to take out $15,000 car loans as Mr. Emory did, he said.

Mr. O'Neill also accused police of overkill for breaking down the already unlocked doors of Mr. Emory's house during the raid.

"All they had to was turn the knob and let themselves in," he said.

Mr. Anders said FBI experts will explain that documents found under James and Patricia Emory's bed record drug sales and value. He said Lawrence C. Leiben, a former member of the alleged ring who recently pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute marijuana and cocaine, will testify against the Emorys.

But Mr. Murnane slashed at Leiben's credibility.

"Larry Leiben is a leper oozing with the sores of criminality," Mr. Murnane charged. "He is someone who has been magically healed by Mr. Anders, who has clutched him to his breast and made him whole."

Two other co-defendants in the case -- Philip B. Dulany, 48, of Pasadena, and George T. Johnson Jr., 47, of Glen Burnie -- pleaded guilty to importation of marijuana and possession of 50 pounds or more of marijuana with intent to distribute. Dulany pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine.

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