Man must be jailed on parole violation

Judge finds ex-drug lord was not unfairly detained

April 25, 2003|By Gail Gibson | Gail Gibson,SUN STAFF

A federal judge who abruptly released Melvin "Little Melvin" Williams in January from what had been a 22-year prison sentence for a gun crime now says the man considered to be one of the worst drug lords in Baltimore history must remain jailed on an old parole violation.

Saying he would release Williams again if he had "legal authority to do so," U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis ruled this week that Williams was not unfairly detained on the parole charge and must complete his jail term for that violation.

"This court is unable to do more for [Williams] than has already been done," Garbis said.

Williams, 61, notorious in Baltimore for presiding over a sophisticated heroin ring in the 1970s, still faces a brighter future than he did late last year, when he was three years into a two-decade, no-parole prison term for a 1999 conviction on a federal gun violation.

In January, Garbis cut the sentence to time served - about 38 months - after finding that Williams did not meet the technical requirements of the federal armed career criminal laws that prosecutors had used to gain the unusually long sentence.

But federal agents picked Williams up on an old parole violation Jan. 17, one day after Garbis had released Williams.

Then, at a hearing in February, the U.S. Parole Commission determined that Williams is eligible for release again on Sept. 6, and defense attorney Michael E. Marr has said he is hopeful that his client could be released to a halfway house before then.

Williams was convicted in October 1999 of using a 9 mm handgun and a small stun gun to attack a man on a West Baltimore street during a dispute over a bail bond debt.

At the time of his arrest for that incident, Williams had been on parole less than three years from an earlier, 24-year prison sentence for a 1985 conviction in federal court in Virginia for cocaine distribution.

Parole officials did not take immediate action against Williams, but they had left open the possibility that he would face sanctions after the 1999 case reached its "final disposition," court records show.

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