Police find drugs in car, arrest NAACP official

March 07, 2009|By Justin Fenton | Justin Fenton,justin.fenton@baltsun.com

Baltimore police arrested the vice president of Baltimore's NAACP chapter Thursday afternoon after heroin and marijuana were recovered during a search of his car, though prosecutors declined to pursue charges.

Police said Ellis L. Staten Jr., 44, who is also an executive committee member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's Maryland conference, was in the driver's seat of a car that had stopped near Pennsylvania Avenue and Dolphin Street, which police say is a well-known drug market.

Officers in an unmarked vehicle observed a man walk away from a large crowd of people huddled on a street corner and climb into the passenger seat of a silver-colored vehicle. The officers wrote in charging documents that they watched a back-seat passenger hand cash to a man standing outside his window in exchange for suspected drugs.

Officers approached the vehicle and found a folded-up dollar bill containing suspected heroin and two pills of suboxone, also known as buprenorphine, a medication used to treat heroin addiction, in the possession of the back-seat passenger, Kevin Logan, 44, police said.

Police said they found Staten in possession of additional suboxone pills inside a case, and in the driver's side door. Police also said they recovered a half-smoked marijuana cigarette. Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said a passenger told officers that Staten had brought him to the area to buy heroin.

Staten and Logan were taken to Central Booking, where Logan was charged with two counts of drug possession. Staten, of Pikesville, was released without charges.

Joseph Sviatko, a spokesman for the Baltimore state's attorney's office, said records indicate the charges were rejected because prosecutors believed that the case against Staten could not be proven. He could not provide additional details yesterday.

Staten did not respond to several requests for comment, nor did Marvin L. "Doc" Cheatham Sr., president of the Baltimore NAACP chapter. Guy Djoken, a spokesman for the NAACP's Maryland conference, said the group was investigating the incident and would not comment.

Records show that Staten has no prior drug charges or criminal convictions. He was charged in 2006 with assault and harassment, and court records show the complainant was listed as Marjorie Green, the NAACP state conference's vice president. Prosecutors dropped the charges. Green also requested a peace order against Staten, which was temporarily granted but eventually dismissed.

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