Harford man pleads guilty to role in Baltimore drug gang


A Harford County man admitted his role in a Baltimore drug gang yesterday, but it was unclear whether he intends to help federal prosecutors in their case against the gang's leaders.

Eric Clash, 28, of Fallston pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Baltimore to two counts of racketeering in a cocaine-dealing business. Clash could receive a sentence of 10 years to life in prison.

According to court papers submitted with his plea, Clash worked as a lieutenant for what he called the Rice organization, a group of drug dealers that authorities say was run by two brothers -- Howard and Raeshio Rice.

Each has been charged with several drug crimes and two killings.

The plea agreement does not say whether Clash intends to testify against the Rice brothers at their trial.

The group transported a large amount of cocaine from Mexico to California and to the Baltimore area, according to court papers.

Authorities said that more than 1,500 kilograms of cocaine were involved.

A federal grand jury handed up the 20-count indictment against the Rice organization in early 2005. The indictment sought forfeiture of $27 million in criminal proceeds in addition to suburban houses and luxury vehicles.

One of the men indicted appeared in the underground DVD Stop Snitching, a video denounced by law enforcement officials as a blatant example of encouraging witness intimidation.

Records show that Clash did well in the real estate market before his arrest last year. He bought a Reisterstown home three years ago for $277,500. The new owner told The Sun last year that he bought the house from Clash for $449,000 in late 2004


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