Simms Lambastes Grand Jury, Judge

June 15, 1993|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff Writer

Baltimore State's Attorney Stuart O. Simms pointed to the sentencing of a city firefighter as a drug kingpin yesterday in issuing some of his harshest criticisms yet of a grand jury report that said his office had thwarted several high-profile drug investigations.

Also, Mr. Simms said that federal prosecutors who reviewed portions of the grand jury report turned up no wrongdoing in his office.

Firefighter Gerard Cifarelli and 51-year-old drywall distributor Carroll Galinus were sentenced yesterday to 20 years in prison with no chance for parole under the state's drug kingpin law. Both men had been convicted last week after evidence during $$TC six-week trial showed they had headed a ring that imported cocaine by the kilogram from New York for sale in Southeast Baltimore and Dundalk.

To Mr. Simms, the case showed that Baltimore Circuit Judge Kenneth L. Johnson, whose charge served as a starting point for the grand jury, was "misguided" when he suggested that city prosecutors have targeted low-level, black drug dealers while allowing bankers and respected businessmen to run drug rings from their offices in downtown skyscrapers.

An investigation by state, city and Baltimore County police turned up no evidence that the hierarchy extended above Cifarelli and Galinus, both of whom are white.

"This ain't Hollywood. The judge and the grand jury may have confused this with Hollywood. It's a nit-gritty business where people are running up and down I-95," Mr. Simms said. Of Judge Johnson, the prosecutor said: "He don't know what's going on, not even in his own courthouse."

Judge Johnson declined to respond to Mr. Simms' comments.

In March, the grand jury issued its report alleging that police and prosecutors blocked or dropped investigations linked to elected officials and other well-known suspects. The panel called for an independent prosecutor.

Mr. Simms, along with Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, immediately dismissed the findings as amateurish. Still, State Prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli found the allegations serious enough to warrant further investigation. Mr. Montanarelli was unable to say yesterday when his review would be completed.

Richard D. Bennett, then the U.S. attorney for Maryland, obtained a copy of an unedited, more detailed version of the report that has not been made public.

Mr. Simms continued to wage a public relations campaign of sorts, culminating in a lengthy letter published in The Sun in which he listed drug "wholesalers" prosecuted by his office and concluded by saying: "The covenant to provide honest and fair ** service to the citizens of Baltimore, without regard to race, gender, economic status or prominence of any kind, has not been broken."

Last week, Mr. Simms received a letter from U.S. Attorney Gary P. Jordan stating that federal prosecutors investigated cases in which city prosecutors worked with federal agencies and found no improprieties. The letter, along with the sentences in the Cifarelli and Galinus cases and seven life-without-parole terms handed out yesterday in federal court in another drug case, show "that however well-intentioned [the grand jurors] were, however well-intentioned the charge, they couldn't see the forest for the trees," Mr. Simms said.

Mr. Simms made that statement during an interview in which he became visibly agitated, jabbing at a tabletop with his finger while bluntly describing his resentment. "To place such accusations which are unproven and were acquired in an unsound fashion is professionally demeaning," he said. "To that extent, one has to take offense."

He said the judge and the grand jury were "used" by disgruntled police officers who renewed complaints about their superiors. He then turned his tough talk toward Cifarelli, the 26-year-old who spent two years with the city Fire Department. "That was his day job," Mr. Simms said. "Thank him for his two years of service and good-bye. Anybody else who was contemplating supplementing their income should think twice in light of these results."

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