Accused gang leader pleads guilty; U.S. to ask 15-year sentence

BGF leader who also held job at organization to stop violence admits racketeering conspiracy

September 14, 2010|By Liz F. Kay, The Baltimore Sun

An accused gang leader who also worked for a city-funded organization to reduce violence pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering Tuesday as part of an agreement with federal prosecutors.

Todd Duncan, 36, also faced one count of conspiracy to distribute narcotics, but under the agreement, that charge will be dismissed at his sentencing hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney James T. Wallner told U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles Jr.

Federal prosecutors agreed to recommend a sentence of 15 years at the hearing, scheduled for Jan. 20.

Duncan was one of 15 people indicted on racketeering charges in July for involvement with the Black Guerrilla Family, after an initial indictment in May on drug trafficking charges.

According to the agreement that Wallner read into the court record, the Black Guerrilla Family is one of the most powerful gangs in the state, operating in correctional institutions and Baltimore neighborhoods. The organization is structured in a paramilitary style under top leaders known as the "Supreme Bush."

As part of the racketeering conspiracy charge, Duncan pleaded guilty to multiple instances of narcotics trafficking, money laundering, bribery and robbery between 2006 and this year. He also admitted that he enforced discipline among members, directed them in drug trafficking and attended meetings of high-ranking BGF leaders.

In addition, Duncan agreed that he directed heroin manufacturing as well as selling bulk quantities of heroin to wholesale clients.

After Tuesday's proceeding, his attorney, Robert H. Waldman, said Duncan "is not a violent person."

"He was a real peacemaker and mediator," the attorney said.

Duncan "supplemented his income" through drug sales and collecting BGF fees and passing them on, but "he didn't encourage violence," Waldman said. "He didn't encourage it, he didn't abet it."

Federal investigators had evidence that Duncan led meetings to quash disputes, his attorney said.

Duncan started working as a youth counselor in 2007 as part of a "Safe Streets" program operated by Communities Organized to Improve Life Inc., or COIL, at a West Baltimore community center.

The cases of the remaining 14 people also indicted are still pending, according to a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office.

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