2 defendants found guilty in drug ring trial, could face decades-long prison terms

Kingpin charge fails

third man is acquitted

January 29, 2003|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

After a two-month drug wiretap trial, two men accused of being part of a high-level interstate heroin and cocaine ring were found guilty in Baltimore Circuit Court of drug charges that could imprison each of them for decades.

Marvin Cantine, 40, was found guilty of conspiracy possession with intent to distribute by a jury Monday, as was a co-defendant, Harvey Lippman, 29. The jury acquitted Cantine on a more serious charge brought under the state's drug kingpin law.

Cantine could be sentenced to up to 40 years in prison and Lippman up to 20 years. Both men face stiffer sentences because each has a drug history.

Another co-defendant, Edwin Richardson, was acquitted of three drug charges after a homicide detective, Irvin Bradley, testified on his behalf as a character witness.

"The government thought they had an unblemished case but it fell apart," said attorney Jack Rubin, who represented Richardson.

Though Cantine and Lippman were found guilty of drug charges, Cantine was acquitted of being the organization's kingpin.

City police worked with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to monitor Cantine and six of his alleged associates.

When they were indicted in November 2001, former Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris, State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy and Mayor Martin O'Malley held a news conference to announce the dismantling of the ring.

According to police, detectives uncovered evidence that Cantine's organization was selling large quantities of heroin and cocaine to city dealers through a West Baltimore saloon, Club Bar, in the 1600 block of Laurens St.

Numerous conversations were intercepted between Cantine and Lippman in which they discussed acquiring large quantities of heroin and money, prosecutors said.

Police testified that they tracked Cantine as he drove to New York to visit his supplier. They also monitored him as he drove back to Maryland with 3 kilograms of heroin in a hidden compartment in his white Mercury Sable. Investigators spotted the car on Interstate 95 on the Maryland-Delaware line and later pulled him over.

Subsequent searches also led police to seize eight guns and $300,000. The gun charges against Cantine and Lippman will be the subject of a later trial.

Four other defendants linked to the drug organization were indicted and accepted plea agreements. Harold Ferguson was sentenced to five years in prison, Derrick Thomas was sentenced to 15 years, Tia Thomas was sentenced to 18 months and David Blake was sentenced to three years.

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