Man says he helped police rob drug users

He agrees to testify against 2 officers

October 06, 2005|By MATTHEW DOLAN | MATTHEW DOLAN,SUN REPORTER

A man who prosecutors say was a lookout for two Baltimore police officers pleaded guilty yesterday to narcotics charges in federal court, pledging to cooperate against the officers, each of whom has been charged with stealing and selling illegal drugs in West Baltimore.

During a brief hearing in U.S. District Court yesterday morning, Antonio Mosby admitted his role in the operation. He had signed an agreement with prosecutors last month to plead guilty to conspiracy to distribute heroin.

Mosby, 39, struck a deal with prosecutors and will cooperate in the case against Officers William A. King and Antonio L. Murray. They were indicted in May and charged with shaking down some of the city's most vulnerable drug users.

Mosby's attorney said later that his client was only a bit player in the scheme, a pawn used by rogue officers for their own gain.

"This guy was put in almost an untenable position," attorney Paul Hazelhurst said yesterday. "He's a drug addict and trying to support his family. If he tries to get out of this, who is he going to go to? They were the police."

King and Murray, who have pleaded not guilty, are scheduled for trial in March. Federal prosecutors handling the case declined to comment.

The investigation became public in May when the two city housing officers were charged with robbing drug dealers and users in West Baltimore, selling the stolen drugs and pocketing the proceeds.

Working with the Police Department's internal affairs division, FBI agents used a global-positioning device to track the officers, tapped their Nextel mobile phones, videotaped them on patrol, and strapped a microphone on a confidential informant who allegedly bought 5 grams of crack cocaine from King.

With Mosby as a spotter, King and Murray pulled elderly and female drug users off the streets and into their department-issue Chevrolet Lumina, authorities said. There, the officers threatened them with violence and arrest, and then robbed them of their cash and drugs, which King and Murray later sold, prosecutors said.

Mosby could receive up to 20 years in prison. But federal guidelines recommend a sentence for him of between three and five years in prison, according to his attorney.

U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz could grant Mosby leniency based on his cooperation with authorities, which would lower the sentencing guidelines to as few as two years, his attorney said.

No date for Mosby's sentencing was set yesterday because prosecutors want to wait until the officers' trial has concluded.

King, 35, of Baltimore, and Murray, 35, of Abingdon, each joined the city Police Department in 1992 and last worked in its public housing crime unit.

They have been suspended by the department and have remained in federal custody since their arrests.

Mosby, who was charged later with serving as their lookout and informant in the drug world, was initially released for drug treatment, but he was rearrested after he left the program without permission.

The two police officers had been mentioned as being "in the game" in the infamous Stop Snitching DVD that appeared for sale late last year. The video included an appearance by NBA star and Baltimore native Carmelo Anthony, who later apologized for his role.

As recently as April 15, King and Murray detained a man and a woman for drug dealing and robbed them of their drugs and money without arresting them, according to the indictment unsealed in May.

Federal prosecutors said the three defendants split the proceeds from the robberies and the drugs they sold.

If convicted of the most serious charge --conspiracy to possess a firearm in the commission of a violent crime -- King and Murray could each face a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.

matthew.dolan@baltsun.com

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