Man, 28, pleads guilty in gun, drug cases

June 24, 2008

A 28-year-old Baltimore man pleaded guilty in federal court yesterday to three counts of using a gun to commit a murder in aid of racketeering and one count of distributing cocaine and heroin, according to the Maryland U.S. attorney's office.

As a result of the plea agreement, prosecutors said that the attorney general's office has decided not seek the death penalty for Harry Burton, known as "Big Harry." He was indicted in the case in April 2007.

The trial for a co-defendant, Allen Gill of Baltimore, began with jury selection yesterday, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office said.

"Harry Burton will not be able to murder any more people on the streets of Baltimore because he has joined the growing list of violent Baltimore criminals exiled to federal prison," Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said in a statement after the court proceeding.

Prosecutors said that between 1999 and 2007, Burton was a member of the Latrobe Organization that operated in Latrobe Homes in East Baltimore and sold crack cocaine and heroin. "Burton and other members of the Latrobe Organization promoted a climate of fear in ... neighborhoods through violence," prosecutors said in the statement.

The prosecutors said that on Jan. 27, 2003, Burton killed Maurice "Smokey" Ireland and shot another man "to improve his standing in the drug world." The shooting occurred after Ireland's companion had insulted Burton with a curse, prosecutors said.

On May 19, 2003, prosecutors said, Burton killed Michael "Mike-Mike" Jones, a drug dealer from West Baltimore, after an argument at a club. Later, prosecutors said, Burton ordered his own girlfriend, Valencia Jones, killed June 20, 2003, alleging that she had set him up to be killed.

Burton could be sentenced to up to 60 years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 12.

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