Man, 25, indicted in city drug case

Murder charges dropped in 1999, 2005

May 17, 2006|By MATTHEW DOLAN | MATTHEW DOLAN,SUN REPORTER

Federal prosecutors announced yesterday the arrest of an often-charged but rarely convicted Baltimore man, saying his capture marked a turning point for the troubled Oswego Mall townhouses.

A federal grand jury indicted Craig E. Winkey, 25, on charges of conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine in and around the Northwest Baltimore neighborhood of Park Heights.

The Oswego Mall public housing complex drew attention last year when a 13-year-old covered his face with a black bandanna, borrowed a gun and shot to death a 23-year-old man in the neighborhood.

The city's youngest murder suspect at the time, he was sentenced in December to stay in juvenile detention until he turns 21.

Beleaguered residents called the fatal shooting endemic of widespread problems of drugs and violence in the neighborhood.

Authorities said yesterday that Winkey was arrested about 11:30 p.m. Monday. He appeared in federal court yesterday and was ordered held in federal custody. His detention hearing is scheduled for today. Winkey, who has been convicted of drug possession in state court, has not yet been assigned an attorney in this case.

Impeded by difficulties with witnesses, state prosecutors in Baltimore dropped a first-degree murder case against Winkey in 1999. In 2001, prosecutors said they were forced to drop attempted first-degree murder charges against him.

Last year, state prosecutors again withdrew murder charges against Winkey.

"It speaks to the continuing problem of witness intimidation in Baltimore," said Margaret T. Burns, a spokeswoman for the city state's attorney's office.

The three-count federal indictment accuses Winkey and three others of conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine this spring. Others indicted were Corey Slater, 25, Andre Everett, 24, and Ty Hopkins, 20, all of the Oswego Mall area of Baltimore. Authorities are still searching for Everett.

If convicted, they could receive a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.

Winkey's arrest was a part of a more comprehensive plan to address some of the neighborhood ills, officials said. The Baltimore Police Department plans on distributing fliers in the neighborhood today to let people know about Winkey's arrest.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded a two-year, $600,000 grant to the city to combat problems in one of its public housing communities. Troy Williams, a community specialist with the Maryland U.S. attorney's office, said Oswego was selected, and $400,000 of those funds were to be used to increase policing efforts by state and federal agents.

The remaining $200,000, Williams said, will be spent on community enrichment efforts, including a computer skills center for adults and children, a community garden and a steel drum band.

"The shooting by a 13-year-old only added fuel to the fire in the neighborhood," Williams said yesterday. "But we're hoping that this comprehensive approach will mean that we don't have to worry about another Winkey after he's gone."

matthew.dolan@baltsun.com

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