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Raid on corrections officer's home shows links to criminals

Indicted in Black Guerrilla Family conspiracy, items connect guard to other city gang members and drug lords

July 09, 2010|By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun

When agents executed search warrants in the cells of three BGF leaders in 2009, the inmates were removed "under the ruse that they were summoned to the warden's office." After the searches, two of the members — Eric Brown and Ray Olivis — were removed from the general population and indicted. But the third man, Jonathan Braverman, was not.

Suspecting he was a cooperating informant, BGF members ordered a "hit on sight" on Braverman. Law enforcement officials visited Braverman — under the guise that they were attorneys — in June 2009 to advise him of the threat, and noticed Simmons "in close proximity to the interview area." By the next day, an informant was relaying to federal agents that Simmons had advised several inmates and BGF members that the DEA had visited Braverman and that he was an informant.

Agents served the search warrant on her home on June 25, and an inventory of seized items was unsealed this week. Included among the items were letters from inmates soliciting phone calls and favors, and newspaper articles about crime and the BGF case. They also found:

•Paperwork labeled "Downing a Duck: An inmate's version." "Downing a Duck" is the name of a chapter from a book called "Games Criminals Play" and details how an inmate lured in a vulnerable corrections officer, or "duck." A Web search shows that the story is used as a cautionary tale to train corrections staff but could just as easily be a how-to for criminals.

•A copy of the search warrant affidavit from the indictment of Brown, the alleged BGF leader. Various phone numbers in the document are circled.

•An obituary for Asia Carter, who was fatally shot in the Remington neighborhood in March 2010. No arrests have been made in that case.

•An envelope from federal inmate Kevin Gary, a Tree Top Piru Bloods leader who last year received 30 years in prison after admitting to witness intimidation, ordering gang members to rob drug dealers and unsuccessfully arranging a murder. The envelope was addressed to Simmons' apartment, and contained a photograph of Gary and a letter.

•A copy of the BGF Constitution, a copy of BGF codes and Swahili words and their meanings.

•Federal inmate cards in the names of Calvin Wright, Johnny Butler, Dieon Scruggs, Lejuanna Walker, Darrick Frayling, and several others. Butler and Wright were sentenced recently to life and 35 years, respectively, in federal prison in connection with their heroin ring. They still face charges in the 2007 torture and killing of Sintia Mesa, who police say was killed over a drug debt.

Scruggs was charged in February with posing as a Federal Fugitive Task Force officer last fall; Walker was convicted in May and received 12 years in prison for his role in a Baltimore County drug ring.

While it was unknown how or why Simmons had the ID cards, Marcinko said many federal defendants awaiting trial pass through the state prison system. "Those persons were being detained at Supermax and facilities where, if you're a corrupt individual, you have access to these federal ID cards," he said.

•"Green Dot" prepaid debit cards, which authorities say are the currency of the prison system, in the names of various inmates including Fonda White and Jeffrey Fowlkes. White, a former prison guard, and Fowlkes, her incarcerated lover and Black Guerrilla Family gang member, pleaded guilty to extorting thousands of dollars from prisoners and their relatives, often using contraband cell phones to call the victims from jail. Simmons also had mail in White's name.

•A letter that references Simmons as "Benita" and mentions a killing. According to the "Black Book," "Benita" is the term used to describe women affiliated with the organization, in hopes that they will become "political activists, firearms experts and entrepreneurs."

Baltimore Sun reporter Peter Hermann contributed to this article.



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