Ex-police officer gets 5 years in murder plot Defendant's evidence helped convict notorious drug dealer

May 30, 1998|By Michael James | Michael James,SUN STAFF

A former Baltimore police officer was sentenced to five years in prison yesterday -- considerably less than he could have been given -- for conspiring with drug lord Anthony Ayeni Jones to abduct and kill a narcotics dealer.

Erick McCrary, who took more than $5,000 in bribes from Jones, received concurrent five-year sentences in Baltimore Circuit Court and U.S. District Court in Baltimore. He will not be eligible for parole.

McCrary faced up to 30 years in prison on a state charge of conspiracy to kidnap and a federal charge of conspiracy to murder in aid of racketeering. But judges in both courts took into account his recent cooperation in testifying against Jones and the drug organization.

"He has rendered a benefit" because of his cooperation, said Baltimore Circuit Judge Joseph P. McCurdy. "And he was honest in his statements."

McCrary, 32, a seven-year veteran in the Eastern District's patrol division, testified against Jones last month in federal court as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors. He told jurors the details of an arrangement to kidnap Elway Williams, Jones' archrival in the East Baltimore drug world.

Williams had been wounded by gunfire in early 1996 in an attack by Jones' henchmen, who were trying to kill him. Jones, who ran a $30,000-a-day cocaine and heroin ring that killed more than a dozen people, had been locked in a bitter turf battle with Williams.

While Williams was recuperating at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Jones approached McCrary about abducting him.

McCrary had obtained a set of unmarked handcuffs that he was planning to use in a faked arrest of Williams. He was then to have delivered Williams to Jones in handcuffs so that he could be executed, federal prosecutors said.

With the help of a police officer McCrary had tried to recruit for the kidnapping, federal agents stopped the scheme before it could be carried out and arrested Jones and McCrary. Jones was convicted this week of murder in aid of racketeering and other charges; a federal jury is considering prosecutors'

requests to sentence him to death.

Yesterday, McCrary's lawyer, Jack B. Rubin, told McCurdy and U.S. District Judge William M. Nickerson that McCrary risked his life to testify against Jones.

"This is a man who has cooperated against the most dangerous drug gang in Maryland history," Rubin said. "For the rest of his life, he will be looking over his shoulder, and so will members of his family."

Rubin repeatedly noted the ruthlessness of Jones, who from prison ordered the executions of rivals and threatened to kill the mothers of those who cooperated against him.

"The tentacles of Mr. Jones extend well beyond his prison cell," Rubin said.

Assistant State's Attorney A. Elizabeth Ritter had argued that McCrary's five-year state sentence should be consecutive to his five-year federal sentence, because the former officer "had complete disregard for his badge."

"It's people like Erick McCrary that allow the Anthony Joneses of the world to flourish," Ritter said. "The reason Mr. McCrary testified was because he came out a lot better for it. He received the benefit of a bargain."

Ritter said McCrary became so friendly with Jones at one point that he played pickup basketball with him in East Baltimore while wearing his police uniform.

McCrary apologized to both judges for dishonoring his family and the police force.

"I'd like to apologize to everyone involved," he said. "I believe I'm a changed person now."

Pub Date: 5/30/98

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