Alleged Blackwell co-conspirator pleads guilty to laundering drug money

She and partner gambled the cash at Las Vegas casinos, court records claim

May 26, 2011|By Tricia Bishop, The Baltimore Sun

A 25-year old Elkton woman pleaded guilty Thursday in Baltimore's U.S. District Court to conspiring to launder more than $400,000 in heroin proceeds, trading the drug funds for clean cash at Las Vegas casinos and other people's winning state lottery tickets.

Joy Edison, who was originally indicted in August on drug charges alongside Steven Blackwell and Tahirah Carter, has also agreed to forfeit at least a half-dozen Baltimore properties she bought using drug money. Sentencing is set for Aug. 12.

Carter pleaded guilty last fall to conspiring to deal heroin, according to online court records and is scheduled for sentencing next month. Blackwell and Edison were reindicted in April, in a superseding document that charged them with the drug conspiracy, but also money laundering and cheating the Internal Revenue Service.

According to a statement of facts in Edison's plea agreement, she joined Blackwell in a conspiracy to launder more than $1 million in Baltimore heroin sales. They gambled the cash at Las Vegas casinos including the Venetian, Caesar's Palace and the MGM Grand, the plea states, traded it for winning lottery tickets and spent it on various city properties.

Edison pleaded not guilty Thursday to the drug conspiracy and tax evasion charges.

Blackwell is scheduled for trial June 6. Police describe Blackwell as a drug kingpin who set off a yearlong wave of violence in the city beginning in 2008 that led to a backyard barbecue shootout that injured a dozen people in 2009.

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