2 convicted of drug dealing, racketeering

Bloods gang member and a supplier found guilty by U.S. jury

March 20, 2010|By Tricia Bishop | tricia.bishop@baltsun.com

A federal jury on Friday convicted two Baltimore men, one of them a Bloods gang member, on racketeering and drug conspiracy charges after two hours of deliberation.

Terrence "Squeaky" Richardson, 30, was found guilty of conspiring to sell crack, cocaine, heroin and marijuana as a leader of the Pasadena Denver Lanes set of the Bloods. He was also convicted of racketeering and accused of ordering several murders as part of PDL operations.

Gregory Saulsbury, 46, was found guilty of conspiring to deal crack cocaine, even though he's not a gang member. He sold drugs to a man who sold to the gang, evidence showed.

Both men face the possibility of life in prison on the drug convictions, and Richardson faces an additional 20-year maximum for racketeering. His sentencing is scheduled for June 22, followed by Saulsbury's on June 23.

The case rocked Baltimore when it was made public last year through a series of early-morning raids by local and federal law enforcement agents across the city, into the counties and even California, where two gang members were arrested.

Altogether, 34 people were federally indicted for drug conspiracy in the sting - dubbed "Operation Tourniquet" because it was designed to cut off the Bloods - and 23 of them were also charged with racketeering as gang members. Other people were charged at the state level and in a second federal indictment.

"This is a sad case," marked by foolishness and stupidity, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kwame Manley told the jury during closing arguments Friday.

He and co-counsel Traci L. Robinson, who is cross-designated to the federal prosecutor position by way of the Baltimore state's attorney's office, outlined a pattern of senseless crimes, including robbery, assault and a revenge killing, along with at least four attempted murders - like the planned grenade death of a court witness.

Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives prevented another killing after hearing about plans for it through a wiretap, a recording of which was played in court Friday. In it, Richardson is heard planning the death with Demetrice Grimes, who goes by the nickname "Murder."

"I don't give a [expletive] if you shoot everyone else, Murder, leave him for me. I'm going to kill him," Richardson says.

Agents swooped in and arrested Richardson before he could commit the crime, though he continued to run the gang from prison, offering drug-dealing advice and ideas on Bloods beatings over the phone, according to the state-authorized wiretap recordings that were at the heart of this case.

Baltimore Assistant State's Attorneys Staci Pipkin and Brandis Marsh, who handled the wiretaps, were in court for the weeklong trial.

Richardson's attorney, Pat Woodward, questioned the credibility of the government's witnesses, many of whom were defendants who had cut deals.

Woodward argued that his client was a "wannabe" gang leader who was really all talk. "He wants to be somebody, but he's not," Woodward said.

Manley responded to that later with one word: "Please." He pointed to a blown-up photo of Richardson's tattoos, which included the word "bang" on each bicep, "L-gang" across his abdomen and a drawn-on Bloods bandanna over his right shoulder.

Saulsbury's attorney, Melissa Phinn, acknowledged that her client dealt drugs, but not to the gang - at least not knowingly.

"They want you to make a leap here for Mr. Saulsbury," Phinn said. "Should he be sitting at a trial table somewhere? Yeah. But not this trial table. Not in this case. … That's not justice."

Both defense attorneys rested their cases without calling any witnesses, and neither defendant testified.

Trials for the remaining federal defendants, who have not taken or will not take plea deals, are scheduled later this year.

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