City deputy is charged with giving felon bullets

Benson, a former boxer, is called `a solid, dependable worker'

February 18, 2000|By Kurt Streeter | Kurt Streeter,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore deputy sheriff, better known locally as a journeyman professional boxer who once angled for a jail house bout with Mike Tyson, has been arrested and charged with providing bullets to a convicted felon, U.S. Attorney Lynne A. Battaglia announced yesterday.

Lewis W. Benson, 42, was arrested Wednesday after he voluntarily came to an interview with FBI agents, said his boss, Sheriff John Anderson.

Benson, known during his fight career as Baltimore's "Battling Sheriff," is accused of giving five bullets for a .38-caliber handgun to John Gilden in October 1996.

Benson knew Gilden had been convicted of second-degree murder when the transaction took place, according to an indictment released last week by the U.S. attorney's office.

The former boxer, a Baltimore resident, was released on his own recognizance yesterday morning by a federal magistrate, James Bredar, at the U.S. Courthouse in Baltimore.

Benson is scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 25. If convicted, he could be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

20 years with department

Anderson said he was shocked by news of the arrest. He described Benson as a "solid, dependable worker" who had never been in trouble in roughly 20 years with the city sheriff's department.

Benson's primary job in recent years was to serve court summonses, many of them for divorce proceedings, said Anderson.

As a professional boxer, Benson had more than 25 fights in the cruiser and heavyweight divisions, occasionally at the Baltimore Civic Center.

At times, he took on world title contenders of the 1980s such as Carl "The Truth" Williams and Jeff Sims, but he was beaten on all those occasions, often badly.

Tyson fight never held

In 1992, with Mike Tyson in an Indiana jail on a rape conviction, there was talk in local boxing circles of a jail house bout matching Benson with the former heavyweight champion.

"I won't take any prisoners!" Benson proclaimed to the local press when speaking of entering the ring with Tyson.

The fight was never held, and Benson retired from the ring soon after.

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