Mfume's youngest son arraigned on federal drug charges in Washington

Gray pleads not guilty to 3 counts of distribution of cocaine in April, May

May 21, 1999|By Erin Texeira and Peter Hermann | Erin Texeira and Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON -- The youngest son of NAACP President Kweisi Mfume was arrested this week by federal authorities on charges of selling powder cocaine.

Ronald T. Gray, 29, was taken into custody late Wednesday at his home in the 1100 block of 5th St. N.W. He pleaded not guilty to three counts of distribution between late April and mid-May at an arraignment yesterday in U.S. District Court.

Gray will be held in federal custody until a bail hearing early Monday.

Officials with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, who made the arrest after a weeks-long investigation, provided little information on the case.

A conviction on the charges could lead to up to 20 years in prison and a $2 million fine, said District Judge Alan Kay.

Wearing a black T-shirt and athletic pants, Gray stood with his arms folded during the 10-minute hearing. He told the judge he is self-employed.

Gray has been arrested three times on gun and drug charges in Baltimore and Baltimore County since 1993, but never has been convicted, according to state court records.

His attorney, federal public defender Maria Jankowski, declined to comment.

Mfume, reached yesterday at a conference in Ghana, relayed a response to questions about the incident through the office of the Baltimore-based National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

"Like any parent, I was deeply hurt and saddened when I received a call about what happened to Ronald. This is the worst nightmare of any parent," Mfume said. "We pray that God will help lift our burden, and we believe that Ronald must be presumed innocent until proven guilty."

Mfume has five sons. Some have retained Mfume's given surname -- Gray -- and others have adopted the newer last name of the former congressman and potential Baltimore mayoral candidate.

The eldest son, Donald Mfume, lives with Gray but was not involved in the drug distribution network, said Special Agent Van Quarles, a DEA spokesman.

Pub Date: 5/21/99

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