A Baltimore police officer has been charged with bribery in an alleged scheme to protect a convicted drug dealer who recruited children for his violent, million-dollar cocaine operation, federal officials disclosed yesterday.
Erick McCrary, 30, a seven-year veteran, resigned after federal drug enforcement agents and city police arrested him at his Northwest Baltimore home Friday. He is charged with witness tampering, aiding and abetting, and bribery, and is being held on $1 million bail.
Police were looking yesterday for the convicted drug dealer, Anthony Jones, 22. Court papers say Jones is on parole and accuse him of still selling drugs in Baltimore. He was last arrested on a gun charge in February and was released on bail, angering the head of the Baltimore Drug Enforcement Administration office, who publicly labeled him a "well-known drug trafficker."
Officials said no other police officers are under investigation. But court papers offer a rare glimpse of how even violent drug dealers could be protected and helped by those sworn to bring them to justice.
A six-page affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore charges that Jones, using Mr. McCrary as a conduit, offered $5,000 to the officer who arrested Jones in February to alter his testimony or not show up in court. The identity of the second officer is being withheld by The Sun because he is working undercover.
The court papers also charge that Mr. McCrary tried to recover $21,000 of Jones' money hidden in a compartment in a seized car.
"This kind of stuff makes me sick to my stomach," said Officer Gary McLhinney, president of the police union. "We have officers risking their lives and cases like this are a slap in the face for all the men and women trying to do their jobs."
But Officer McLhinney noted that the undercover officer turned in his colleague. "He did the right thing and honored the oath he took," the union head said. "That's just as important, especially to those people who say: 'Look at all the bad police.' "
Police and federal agents were tight-lipped about the case, not wanting to compromise the search for Jones. Sam Ringgold, city police spokesman, would only confirm the arrest and resignation of Mr. McCrary.
"The commissioner [Thomas C. Frazier] recently made ethics and integrity a big issue," Mr. Ringgold said yesterday. "He certainly sent the message that it won't be tolerated."
Mr. McCrary was being held in the Harford County Detention Center after his arrest Friday.
He was moved to an undisclosed location after his initial appearance Monday before a federal judge.
Two years after becoming a police officer, Mr. McCrary and another officer were charged with stealing $350 from a gambler running a crap game at Broadway and East Chase Street. The officers were acquitted of the charges.
Mr. McCrary's grandmother, who didn't want her name used, said she talked to her grandson Friday night. "From my standpoint, he was a good police officer," she said. "He has never used drugs."
But police charge that Mr. McCrary had become associated with Jones and became close enough to have secret pager codes, even while court papers say Jones "is currently distributing quantities of cocaine and heroin in Baltimore City."
Jones' arrest in 1991 when he was 17 years old became headline news in Baltimore, as police swept through East Baltimore and arrested 15 youths connected to a drug operation, some as young as 11 years old. Police at the time said Jones' drug organization was linked to 20 shootings. He was convicted on drug charges in 1992 and is on parole until October.
A city police officer and DEA agents arrested Jones on handgun charges Feb. 19. later last month, Jones gave the undercover officer $2,000 "in exchange for an understanding that the officer would either not testify or alter his testimony regarding Jones' recent handgun arrest."
In talks with the undercover officer, the court documents say that "McCrary has offered himself [as] the contact person for Anthony Jones" and that Jones once offered to pay $5,000 for information on a rival drug dealer and then offered to pay $10,000 to arrest the rival and turn the dealer over to Jones. During a search of Mr. McCrary's apartment, court documents say, police seized a clothing bill that contained information linked to Jones, including directions to open the hidden compartment in the Oldsmobile.
Police said they also recovered a key to the Oldsmobile from the officer's house, which the officer admitted getting from Jones, the affidavit says. Police also seized a pager from Mr. McCrary's house with Jones' home telephone number "locked in."
Pub Date: 4/03/96