1990s drug 'kingpin' in trouble again

'Great Billy Guy' released from prison, picked up on wiretap in new case, records show

April 14, 2011|By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun

In 1991, Charles "Billy" Guy became the first person convicted under Maryland's newly enacted drug kingpin statute, which carried a mandatory prison term of 20 years without parole. A New Yorker, he had regularly traveled to the Inner Harbor in limousines and spent lavishly on diamonds as he collected as much as $30,000 a week in drug profits.

"Yesterday," a Sun article at the time read, "the lavish lifestyle ended for the man who called himself 'the great Billy Guy.'"

Not quite, according to federal authorities. Guy's conviction was overturned, and he would instead serve 11 years behind bars. Now 43, he's been indicted on drug conspiracy charges in U.S. District Court, with the FBI alleging he was part of a heroin conspiracy centered in Baltimore that stretched from Washington to New York and into Anne Arundel County. He pleaded not guilty in February.

Guy, according to documents, used "15 different telephones" during the course of a federal wiretap investigation, and at one point was observed "serendipitously tossing a mobile phone out the window of a moving car" while driving on the Baltimore Beltway en route from Baltimore back to New York.

It was the recovery of that phone that helped agents identify Guy, who until that point was an unknown conspirator, according to records. "The secretive nature of the members of the organization, and the ease with which mobile telephones are obtained in fictitious names has created a challenge for investigators," agents wrote in court papers.

Guy, also known as "Captain" and "Beloved," was the first person convicted under the little-used drug kingpin statute, which had been in effect for two years at the time.

Authorities said that though he was based in the South Bronx, he moved $4 million in one year through heroin and cocaine sales in East Baltimore's Barclay neighborhood. His strategy was to sell his bags of heroin, trademarked "G-Force," for $10 each at a time when the going rate was between $30 and $60.

More than $30,000 worth of gold jewelry adorned his body when he was arrested, The Sun reported.

"Billy Guy was, quote, the Man," a prosecutor said at the time.

But Guy's conviction was overturned by the Court of Special Appeals in 1992, according to corrections officials. He was ordered to serve out convictions on lesser charges and was paroled in March 2002. His supervision expired in July 2010.

If the present accusations are true, Guy got back to work quickly. The FBI says he was supplying "kilogram quantities" of heroin on a regular basis to a Baltimore man named Christian Gettis, and was assisted by a number of couriers who have also been charged. He was arrested in New Jersey in late January, records show.

Guy's attorney, Howard Cardin, said his client denies the charges. "We're anxious to get this resolved," Cardin said.

Gettis was in the news in December when he was the victim of a home invasion and robbery in which he was tied up and shot. Notably, agents described the incident as a "purported" robbery.

Gettis' wife, Tonya, called WBAL-TV to complain that police were not letting her visit her husband at the hospital. By the next month, the couple and 28 others — including alleged drug distributors from Anne Arundel County and Annapolis — had been indicted in the conspiracy.

The investigation of Gettis, and subsequently Guy, grew out of a case in Washington involving the killing of a federal witness. According to documents, during the course of a court-authorized wiretap there on a man named Mark Pray, it was determined that Pray was receiving heroin from Gettis, leading to a "spinoff" investigation with new wiretaps authorized here, records show.

justin.fenton@baltsun.com



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