Jury report spurs probe of police Prosecutor to look at city drug cases BALTIMORE CITY

April 06, 1993|By Joe Nawrozki | Joe Nawrozki,Staff Writer

Sparked by a grand jury report that's highly critical of Baltimore's Police Department, the state special prosecutor has requested the department's files on a number of cases, including a 1990 murder investigation in which state Sen. Larry Young was interviewed by detectives.

State Special Prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli is investigating a city grand jury's finding that the city Police Department's drug enforcement effort is badly managed and the city state's attorney's office thwarted investigations involving prominent drug suspects.

Senator Young, a Baltimore Democrat and close friend of the Rev. Marvin Moore, was one of several people who found the minister shot to death in his West Baltimore apartment in May 1990. Police found an informer who provided them with information about events that occurred hours before the slaying, but Senator Young provided contradictory information, sources say.

Homicide investigators planned to use the informer in an undercover operation, but the plan was thwarted. Police officers who appeared before the grand jury said they were ordered to reveal the informer's identity to members of the Police Department command staff, who they suspected of leaking it to sabotage the investigation, sources said.

Police say Senator Young was not a suspect, but a key figure in the murder investigation. Senator Young did not appear before the special grand jury although his personal driver did, according to sources.

Mr. Montanarelli's office notified the Police Department last week that prosecutors want to review specific files in the Criminal Investigation Division and intelligence unit, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

Police spokesman Sam Ringgold said yesterday "we are cooperating 110 percent with the special prosecutor. The commissioner has said the department will cooperate fully" with the investigation.

The grand jury report alleges that police and the city prosecutor's office blocked or dropped investigations linked to elected officials and other well-known suspects, that the police focused on street-level drug arrests instead of more important targets and that federal money meant for drug enforcement was misspent on police overtime pay.

Those charges are being investigated by Mr. Montanarelli's office, which conducts examinations of potential criminal misconduct and political corruption.

Yesterday, Mr. Montanarelli said the investigation of the grand jury report is "high priority" for his staff of investigators and auditors.

He would not, however, comment if any of the 23 members of the panel or 50 witnesses have been interviewed or disclose other information concerning the investigation.

James I. Cabezas, the prosecutor's chief investigator, said yesterday a full investigation "takes this office a minimum of 90 days to be completed. Oftentimes, it takes six months or more, and in something like this you want to be absolutely thorough."

Also, sources have told The Sun that Mr. Montanarelli and another state prosecutor, Thomas "Mike" McDonough, last week interviewed the grand jury's deputy foreperson and author of the report, Toni Talbott.

That interview lasted for more than five hours, sources said.

Meanwhile, the Baltimore Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance -- which embraces about 250 congregations -- is planning to endorse the report. A group spokesman also praised Baltimore Circuit Judge Kenneth L. Johnson, who was responsible for the grand jury investigation.

"The people need to hold the higher-ups responsible," the Rev. William Calhoun, president of the group and pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, said yesterday.

"We in the clergy need to raise the conscience of the people, be a voice for the voiceless and demand that equality and justice be there for everyone," Mr. Calhoun said.

He said he and other leaders of the alliance would "meet and discuss the grand jury report and come out with a unified position. He also commended Judge Johnson and the grand jurors. "Judge Johnson had the courage to let them be free," Mr. Calhoun said.

The Rev. Sidney Daniels, the past president of the alliance and pastor of the Emmanuel Christian Community Church, said yesterday it was important for members of the clergy to be involved in social issues.

"We know the grand jury was not a group of law school graduates but any grand jury is supposed to be made up of everyday citizens, not a bunch of sophisticated folk," Mr. Daniels said.

"We think the special prosecutor should look into this and let the chips fall where they may," he said.

The grand jury issued two reports, one that was heavily edited for public consumption and another that named prominent individuals as money launderers for heroin and cocaine operations.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and State's Attorney Stuart O. Simms have assailed the report, calling it amateurish and shallow.

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