Jones, 23, pleads guilty to gun charge Police say Baltimore man ran violent gang for years

officer also enters plea

September 26, 1996|By Peter Hermann and Kate Shatzkin | Peter Hermann and Kate Shatzkin,SUN STAFF

A man who police say dealt drugs and ran a violent gang for years while thwarting their efforts to stop him may finally be off the streets -- at least for a few years.

Anthony Ayeni Jones of East Baltimore pleaded guilty yesterday in U.S. District Court to being a felon in possession of a handgun. A former Baltimore police officer admitted in court yesterday to helping Jones in a bribery scheme to avoid prosecution. And the two face charges next month that may net them more time.

If a judge accepts Jones' plea agreement, he could receive 2 1/2 to three years in prison when he and former officer Erick McCrary are sentenced Nov. 22.

And the agreement between Jones' lawyer and Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter M. Semel indicates that Jones' sentence could grow if the 23-year-old can be classified a "career offender." The maximum sentence for the charge is 10 years.

That provision may be key to the law-enforcement officials who watched, frustrated, as Jones was arrested repeatedly over the past five years, to be convicted only once as an adult on a drug conspiracy charge for which he spent less than a year in prison.

Since his release from that sentence in 1992, Jones has been arrested a number of times but never convicted, though police say Jones continued to operate a $1 million-a-year cocaine and heroin trade on the city's Eastside.

Police were further embarrassed when they discovered that not only did their promises in 1991 to put Jones away for "a century" fail to come true, but that upon his release from prison, he linked up with McCrary, who at the time patrolled a beat in the city's Eastern District.

After Jones admitted to the gun charge yesterday, McCrary -- who quit the force after his arrest in March -- pleaded guilty to conspiring to tamper with a witness, telling a judge that his association with Jones was "common knowledge" among fellow officers.

McCrary, 30, admitted yesterday that he offered another Eastern District police officer a $5,000 bribe on behalf of Jones to forget about a handgun seized from Jones in February. He could face between one and nearly two years under the plea agreement.

"I think he's sincerely remorseful," McCrary's attorney, Jack B. Rubin, said after yesterday's hearing. "I think he's embarrassed, he's upset. It's the most demeaning experience of his life."

Jones and McCrary still face trial in Baltimore Circuit Court next month on allegations that they conspired to kidnap a rival drug dealer and to recover thousands of dollars stashed in a vehicle police seized from Jones.

Lawyers for McCrary and Jones said their clients continue to plead not guilty to the state charges, which involve other allegations that McCrary tried to help Jones.

Special Agent Larry E. Hornstein, a federal Drug Enforcement Administration investigator who worked on the Jones and McCrary cases, said he was satisfied with yesterday's plea agreements.

McCrary's statements about his colleagues, made in response to a question from Judge Andre M. Davis, raise questions about the Eastern District and its officers.

When McCrary was arrested, police commanders said no other officers had been linked to Jones. But McCrary's statements, in answer to the judge's questions about the case, suggest that he remained on patrol while co-workers knew of his ties to Jones.

Police spokesman Sam Ringgold said commanders who worked in the district at the time dispute that statement. He said the department's internal investigations division might try to interview McCrary about it, but said investigators "would not be interested in going on a witch hunt based on what a person pleading guilty said."

Pub Date: 9/26/96

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