Four men are indicted on charges involving killing of Balto. Co. man

Oft-arrested `Itchy Man' among suspects in slaying

May 13, 2004|By Stephanie Hanes | Stephanie Hanes,SUN STAFF

Federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment yesterday charging that Solothal Thomas -- better known as "Itchy Man" -- and three other men were violent "enforcers" for a marijuana organization and shared $10,000 for their alleged roles in killing a Baltimore County man.

Thomas, 28, was profiled in The Sun's 2002 series "Justice Undone," which examined flaws in Baltimore's criminal justice system. He is notorious among local police and prosecutors for being accused of two killings and 12 attempted killings, but never being convicted.

Thomas returned to his Baltimore home last month after spending about 1 1/2 years in prison for illegal possession of a bulletproof vest. He was arrested Tuesday, according to his lawyer, Arcangelo M. Tuminelli.

Thomas and his 33-year-old brother, Danta Thomas, face charges that could carry the death penalty.

Danta and Solothal Thomas made initial appearances in U.S. District Court yesterday.

The federal indictment also alleges that Edward Countess, known as "Bam," and Linwood Smith, known as "Wood," were participants in the contract murder and a conspiracy to distribute at least 1,000 kilograms of marijuana.

The U.S. attorney's office said Countess must be transferred from state to federal custody. Federal agents and Baltimore area police are looking for Smith, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors say the men were part of a widespread marijuana trafficking organization that supplied various Baltimore "markets."

According to the indictment, they distributed drugs mostly around Carey Street in West Baltimore, and violently retaliated against those who tried to interfere.

They "acted as enforcers, committing and causing to be committed acts of violence to help protect the reputation and dominant position of the organization," the indictment said.

These "acts of violence" included the murder-for-hire of a Milford Mill man named Jesse Williams, according to the indictment.

Williams was shot multiple times Oct. 2, 2001, as he got into his car outside his Courtland Manor Road home. According to the indictment, the men split about $10,000 for the killing.

The four men were also indicted on charges of firearms violations.

"This indictment is a result of our continued commitment to dismantle violent drug organizations in Baltimore City," U.S. Attorney Thomas M. DiBiagio said in a statement released yesterday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason M. Weinstein asked that U.S. Magistrate Judge James K. Bredar order the brothers detained while the case is pending. The defense did not oppose the request.

Tuminelli is defending Solothal Thomas with attorney Teresa Whalen. Gerald C. Ruter was in court yesterday representing Danta Thomas. All three said after the court appearance that they had not reviewed the case against their clients.

"We haven't had an opportunity to investigate or review the information on the details of the case," Tuminelli said. "But we intend to defend Mr. Thomas."

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