Witness describes deal with officers

Addict-turned-informant testifies he resold drugs confiscated by police

March 21, 2006|By MATTHEW DOLAN | MATTHEW DOLAN,SUN REPORTER

Almost daily on cell phones and regularly in person at Pete's Place Bar & Lounge on North Franklintown Road, an odd couple commiserated. The police officer sometimes joked about his love life; the informant lamented about his heroin addiction and a daughter who was running into trouble with the law in New York.

But in hours of secretly recorded conversations by federal agents, prosecutors say, one topic of conversation dominated the relationship between Detective William A. King and his informant, Antonio Mosby: selling illegal drugs for mutual profit.

A federal jury heard more than a dozen recorded phone calls yesterday that prosecutors say show how King and his partner, Detective Antonio L. Murray, shook down drug dealers pointed out by Mosby at open-air drug markets across Baltimore.

Yesterday's testimony from Mosby, who struck a deal with prosecutors in hopes of a lighter prison sentence, marked the fourth day in the police corruption trial. The proceeding is the culmination of the FBI's seven-month wiretap probe into misconduct in the Baltimore Police Department that ended with the May 2005 arrests of King and Murray.

In a 33-count indictment in U.S. District Court, they are accused of conspiring to rob and extort cocaine, heroin and marijuana - as well as drug-related proceeds - from suspects they pursued.

Now imprisoned, Mosby, 40, spent most of yesterday morning on the witness stand explaining how he bought and sold heroin in West Baltimore for some 25 years before his arrest last year by federal agents.

He told jurors he first met King and Murray in the spring of 2003 when Mosby was arrested with five gel capsules of heroin.

"They were pretty much asking me what could I help them with," Mosby said.

Mosby was not charged and instead registered as a confidential informant, making him eligible for payments from the Police Department. Hanging over his head, Mosby said, was the possibility that King and Murray would charge him with drug possession if he didn't cooperate.

"They had the pills," he explained yesterday. "So I felt obligated" to call the officers with tips about drug activity.

At first, Mosby said, he thought he would just be providing lawful information to King and Murray. Soon, he said, "I became aware."

His awareness was of the illegal drug business set up by King and Murray, according to prosecutors. Mosby provided information about which "hitters" were carrying drugs; King and Murray would "catch and release" the dealers, stripping them of their money and drugs. Then, according to prosecutors and trial testimony, the officers would illegally sell the drugs to Mosby at a discount. He in turn, he said, resold the drugs back out on the streets.

They called it "grinding," Mosby told the jury.

Among the targets, Mosby said, were "old heads," or older drug dealers and users. King told Mosby that the officers didn't want information about juveniles, who would require a lengthy arrest booking process, or young people who would be apt to run from the detectives and require a chase.

Attorneys for King and Murray centered their questioning yesterday on whether the officers had attempted to use Mosby and other informants to crack large-scale drug dealers.

Under cross-examination, Mosby told King's attorney Edward Smith Jr. that he was a longtime heroin addict who needed five hits of the drug a day to keep from being "sick." He sold the drug to family and friends, delivering heroin to their workplaces at lunchtime.

"You didn't see anything wrong with that? You felt you were doing them a service?" Smith asked Mosby.

"In a sense, yes," Mosby said.

matthew.dolan@baltsun.com

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